Latex gloves lead to lax hand hygiene in hospitals, study finds

Healthcare workers who wear gloves while treating patients are much less likely to clean their hands before and after patient contact, according to a study published in the December issue of Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology, the journal of the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America. This failure of basic hand hygiene could be contributing to the spread of infection in healthcare settings, the researchers say.

Glove use is appropriate for situations when contact with is anticipated or when patients are to be managed with contact precautions. However, use of gloves should not be considered a substitute for effective practices taking place before and after patient contact. Although gloves can reduce the number of germs transmitted to the hands, germs can sometimes still get through latex. Hands can also be contaminated by "back spray" when gloves are removed after contact with body fluids.

The researchers, led by Dr. Sheldon Stone of the Royal Free Hospital NHS Trust, observed more than 7,000 patient contacts in 56 intensive care and of the elderly wards in 15 United Kingdom hospitals, making this one of the largest and most detailed studies on gloves and their impact on hand hygiene. Overall, the study found that hand hygiene compliance was "disappointingly low," at just 47.7 percent. Compliance was even lower in instances where gloves were worn, dipping to just over 41 percent.

"The chances of hands being cleaned before or after patient contact appear to be substantially lower if gloves were being worn," said Dr. Stone, the principal investigator. "We call this the phenomenon of the 'Dirty Hand in the Latex Glove.'"

Though troubling, the results also reveal an opportunity to reduce healthcare associated infections by focusing further hand hygiene improvement efforts on better hand hygiene when using gloves. Doing so may prove the critical step in getting overall hand hygiene levels to the levels needed to prevent transmission of infection, the researchers say.

Dr. Stone and his colleagues suggest further study on the behavioral reasons behind why are less likely to wash their hands when wearing gloves. Regardless, the researchers recommend that campaigns such as the World Health Organization's Clean Care is Safer Care program should emphasize better hand hygiene associated with gloving practices.

Provided by Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America

not rated yet
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Wash your hands and you may approach the patient bed

Mar 17, 2011

Each year patients in the U.S. get more than a million infections while in the hospital being treated for something else. The best way to prevent infection is to practice proper hand hygiene, according to the U.S. Centers ...

Recommended for you

Recorded Ebola deaths top 7,000

7 hours ago

The worst Ebola outbreak on record has now killed more than 7,000 people, with many of the latest deaths reported in Sierra Leone, the World Health Organization said as United Nations Secretary-General Ban ...

Liberia holds Senate vote amid Ebola fears (Update)

11 hours ago

Health workers manned polling stations across Liberia on Saturday as voters cast their ballots in a twice-delayed Senate election that has been criticized for its potential to spread the deadly Ebola disease.

Evidence-based recs issued for systemic care in psoriasis

Dec 19, 2014

(HealthDay)—For appropriately selected patients with psoriasis, combining biologics with other systemic treatments, including phototherapy, oral medications, or other biologic, may result in greater efficacy ...

Bacteria in caramel apples kills at least four in US

Dec 19, 2014

A listeria outbreak believed to originate from commercially packaged caramel apples has killed at least four people in the United States and sickened 28 people since November, officials said Friday.

Steroid-based treatment may answer needs of pediatric EoE patients

Dec 19, 2014

A new formulation of oral budesonide suspension, a steroid-based treatment, is safe and effective in treating pediatric patients with eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE), according to a new study in Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology, the official clinical practice journal ...

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.