Study of the Day: Latex Gloves May Add to Hygiene Issues in Hospitals

More

New research shows that healthcare workers who wear gloves are much less likely to clean their hands before and after patient contact

main2 Yuri Arcurs shutterstock_83070793.jpg

PROBLEM: Gloves reduce germ transmission in situations where contact with body fluids is expected. Their use, however, is not a substitute for hand-washing before and after patient contact, since germs can still get through latex and hands can be contaminated by "back spray" when gloves are removed.

METHODOLOGY: Researchers in the U.K. led by Sheldon Stone of the Royal Free Hospital NHS Trust observed glove use and hand-hygiene practices involving 7,578 patient contacts in 56 intensive care units in 15 hospitals.

RESULTS: Gloves were used in just over a quarter of the patient contacts and were absent in 141 of 669 high-risk contacts. Use of gloves was strongly associated with poor hand hygiene as well. While only half of those who didn't wear gloves washed their hands before and after coming into contact with a patient, the rate for those who wore gloves was even lower at just 41.4 percent.

CONCLUSION: Hand hygiene is a serious problem in hospitals. Healthcare workers who wear gloves may be relying too much on their ability to prevent transmission, as they clean their hands before and after patient contact much less frequently.

IMPLICATION: This failure of basic hand hygiene could be contributing to the spread of infection, the researchers say in a statement. Hand-hygiene campaigns should consider placing greater emphasis on the World Health Organization's indications for glove use.

SOURCE: The full study, "The Dirty Hand in the Latex Glove: A Study of Hand-Hygiene Compliance When Gloves Are Worn," is published in the journal Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology.

Image: Yuri Arcurs/Shutterstock.

Jump to comments
Presented by

Hans Villarica writes for and produces The Atlantic's Health channel. His work has appeared in TIME, People Asia, and Fast Company.

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

What Do You See When You Look in the Mirror?

In a series of candid video interviews, women talk about self-image, self-judgment, and what it means to love their bodies


Elsewhere on the web

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Adventures in Legal Weed

Colorado is now well into its first year as the first state to legalize recreational marijuana. How's it going? James Hamblin visits Aspen.

Video

What Makes a Story Great?

The storytellers behind House of CardsandThis American Life reflect on the creative process.

Video

Tracing Sriracha's Origin to Thailand

Ever wonder how the wildly popular hot sauce got its name? It all started in Si Racha.

Video

Where Confiscated Wildlife Ends Up

A government facility outside of Denver houses more than a million products of the illegal wildlife trade, from tigers and bears to bald eagles.

Video

Is Wine Healthy?

James Hamblin prepares to impress his date with knowledge about the health benefits of wine.

Video

The World's Largest Balloon Festival

Nine days, more than 700 balloons, and a whole lot of hot air

Writers

Up
Down

More in Health

Just In