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Does glove use increase the risk of infection?6th of October 2014
The use of gloves in the healthcare sector can increase the risk of infection to patients if used inappropriately, according to new research.
And medical staff need to examine their motives for wearing gloves in order to protect themselves and improve patient safety.
According to an article in Nursing Times, the use of gloves was first recommended following the emergence of HIV and the understanding that it could be transmitted via infected blood.
However, recent surveys have found that some medical staff wear gloves in order to save time and avoid the need for hand hygiene. Gloves may also be worn to meet patients’ own hygiene expectations.
One study showed that gloves were worn on 17 per cent of occasions where the risk of contact with bodily fluids was minimal, and not worn on 21 per cent of occasions where the risk of contact was high. And research has shown that when put on too soon or taken off too late, gloves may actually facilitate cross-contamination.
According to studies, gloves are commonly put on outside patients’ rooms or at glove dispensers in bays rather than at the bedside. As a result, curtains and other equipment may be touched with gloved hands before patient contact.
The gloves may also become contaminated following contact with the patient, and if they are not removed immediately can lead to cross-contamination with other surfaces.
“It is possible that strong messages in recent years about the risks of infection in healthcare may have increased health professionals’ perceived need to protect themselves,” say medical experts.
“However, the emerging evidence about glove use suggests this could be a high-risk strategy since it is likely to increase the triggers for using gloves - and decrease the focus on the critical points for glove removal and hand hygiene.”