Advances in Hand Hygiene Compliance

Advances In Hand Hygiene Compliance

Hand hygiene is the most effective means of reducing hospital-associated infections (HAIs.) Infection prevention is critical to saving lives and reducing cost of care. Yet maintaining a high level of hand hygiene compliance continues to be a real challenge. Hospital visitors may not be aware of the need to use handwashing stations available in hallways, and healthcare workers (HCWs) often miss opportunities for proper hand hygiene due to a variety of reasons.

Determined to improve quality of care, hospitals are employing new and novel means to help HCWs comply with hand hygiene requirements and maintain high levels of compliance.

Targeted Solutions Tool®

In 2006 Memorial Herman Hospital System (MMHS,) consisting of 12 hospitals and over 200 alternate-site facilities and programs, set the goal of becoming a high reliability organization (HRO.) HROs maintain high levels of quality and safety over long periods with few adverse events.

Working toward this goal, Robust Process Improvement® projects proved effective in reducing HAIs, but more could be done by addressing hand hygiene compliance. MMHS implemented the Joint Commission Center for Transforming Healthcare’s Web-based Targeted Solutions Tool® (TST®.)

The TST enabled MMHS to measure compliance rates using secret observers, identify reasons for noncompliance and implement tested interventions provided by the TST. Most importantly, they were able to sustain those improvements.

MMHS found that the number one contributing cause of hand hygiene noncompliance at their hospitals was improper use of gloves, which includes not washing before or after wearing gloves. Other frequent contributing causes included frequent entry and exit of patient areas, hands being full of supplies, being distracted or forgetting, following a person during entry or exit, and ineffective or inconvenient placement of hand gel dispensers or sinks.

Interventions to increase compliance included using a code word to remind a distracted person to perform hand hygiene, relocating or adding hand gel dispensers, and providing a surface for HCWs to place supplies and medications so they could perform hand hygiene.

MHHS’s system-wide hand hygiene compliance averaged 84.4% during the “improve” phase compared to the baseline average of 58.1%. They ultimately achieved 95.6% compliance in the final 12 months of the study. All that effort paid off with fewer HAIs. Adult ICU central line-associated bloodstream infections decreased by 49%, and ventilator-associated pneumonia decreased by 45%.

To sustain these gains, MMHS continues to collect and input data on hand hygiene compliance, and each hospital’s hand hygiene team is responsible for sustaining performance.

Remote Video Auditing (RVA) with Feedback

For a more high-tech approach, a technology that has been shown to dramatically improve hand hygiene compliance in the food processing industry is now doing the same in hospitals – RVA with feedback.  The system captures and audits images and provides real-time feedback to practice areas. While it sounds ominous – cameras watching your every move – it encourages compliance in a positive way with a non-punitive approach.

NS-LIJ’s North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset, NY employed the RVA system from Arrowsight to improve hand hygiene compliance in their medical intensive care unit (MICU.) The baseline snapshot of compliance before feedback was low, around 10 percent.

Over a 16-week period, HCWs were monitored and received real-time feedback in aggregate on LED screens mounted on the walls of the MICU and from team leaders. Each shift was able to clearly see their compliance rate which naturally motivated improvement. Within weeks the hand hygiene compliance rate soared to 80 percent, then reached a sustained rate of 90 percent during the 17 month maintenance period.

Some feel this method is superior to “secret-shoppers” or observation by individuals with clipboards in hand. When we know we are being watched, we act differently.

His Eyes Are On You

Even when we aren’t being watched, just the image of a man’s intense staring eyes above a handwashing station can prompt compliance.

Employing behavioral science, researchers at a teaching hospital in Miami found that a picture of a man’s eyes increased hand hygiene by one-third at an intensive care unit. Interestingly, a picture of a woman’s eyes saw a lower compliance rate than no picture at all. This may be because of gender differences in exerting social influence, or it may have just been because the man’s eyes showed more facial musculature, which is perceived as anger or a threat. In any case, this low-tech “cue” works.

Figure 2. 

Pure Hold Hygiene Handles

PureHoldDoor knobs and handles are notorious for harboring germs, making them common sources of infection transmission. Frequent wipe-downs with a germicide are not enough to halt viruses looking for their next ride.

Enter the Pure Hold Hygiene Handle. It sprays a hand sanitizing gel on the person’s hand as they open the door. Lab testing and trials have proven that these sanitizer dispensing door handles are 98.5 percent cleaner than a standard door handle.

The hands that open them are also cleaner. At Queen Alexandra Hospital in Portsmouth, hands that used the system were 87.5 percent cleaner than those that did not. The special handles are also used in the cleanroom, pharmaceutical and food processing industries to reduce possible contamination of critical environments. Employing the door handle as the method of dispensing handwashing gel ensures that more people comply with efforts to stop viruses and HAIs.

Hand hygiene compliance, including the proper use of medical gloves, is a critical factor in reducing HAIs. Increasing and maintaining that compliance among healthcare workers is made possible by employing new and novel methods and technology.

Endotoxin Testing of Surgical and Cleanroom Gloves

Endotoxin Testing of Surgical and Cleanroom Gloves

Endotoxins are large molecules found in the outer membrane of Gram-negative bacteria. If enough of the molecules get into the bloodstream of humans or animals, they produce a variety of inflammatory responses. Symptoms range from fever and septic shock to low blood pressure and respiratory distress.

Gram-negative bacteria are ubiquitous – found in soil, water and living organisms – so avoiding them isn’t an option. Glove testing and manufacturing controls are employed to reduce the risk of transmission during surgery, whether from surgical gloves or other medical devices.

Endotoxin Testing

To lower the risk of infection and possible death, sterile medical gloves and some cleanroom gloves are tested for endotoxin contamination.

Horseshoe-CrabUSP Chapter <85> Bacterial Endotoxins Test. There are 3 methodologies to detect or quantify endotoxins in sterile medical and cleanroom gloves – Gel Clot, Turbidimetric and Chromogenic. All three methods utilize a reagent produced from the lysate of amoebocytes (white blood cells) of the horseshoe crab (Limulus polyphemus or Tachypleus tridentatus.) This test is often referred to as Limulus Amoebocyte Lysate or LAL.

The average contaminant concentration is reported in endotoxin units per device (glove pair.) The FDA has set a limit of 20 EU/device for medical devices that have direct or indirect contact with blood or lymph fluid. Devices that come into contact with cerebrospinal fluid have a much lower limit – 2.15 EU/device.

Contamination Control

To reduce the amount of contamination on their end product, medical device manufacturers need gloves with low endotoxin levels for their employees. Endotoxin contamination on gloves can vary.

In a 2007 study performed by the Malaysian Rubber Board, endotoxin contamination on latex surgical and examination gloves varied widely between brands. The non-sterile examination gloves tested ranged from <8.4 EU/glove pair to as high as 9,632 EU/glove pair. Most of the sterile surgical gloves in the study were generally clean, with most in the minor to moderate contamination range. A few, however, did test much higher than the FDA limit.

These potentially deadly, fragmented remains of bacteria are bioactive and difficult to kill. Endotoxins can adhere to medical implants and devices, even after sterilization.

Thus, endotoxin contamination control is an important part of medical device manufacturing. Glove manufacturers use a variety of technologies and environmental controls to reduce particulate and biological contamination. The most common approach is to package surgical and cleanroom gloves in a cleanroom environment or white room that is regularly cleaned and sanitized, and operated by workers that are gowned and gloved.

Although bacterial endotoxins are everywhere in our environment, thorough testing and diligent contamination control can result in safe medical devices that enhance our lives.


Surveillance, Robots and Gloves Fight Spread of CRE


The superbug CRE, or carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae, has roared back into national headlines. This multi-drug resistant hospital-acquired infection (HAI) is much feared for good reason. The death rate is as high as 50%.

The current news reports are focused on hard to clean duodenoscopes. These scopes are used in more than half a million medical procedures each year, and are responsible for at least eight CRE outbreaks nationwide.

Health care professionals are taking new measures to fight the spread of CRE.

Testing Scopes for CRE

Hospital infection control directors at many hospitals are heeding the alarm and stepping up surveillance. Swedish Medical Center now performs daily cultures of these scopes to check for hard to kill Gram-negative germs like CRE. After being cleaned and tested, the instruments are held until they are proven free of dangerous bacteria. This test-and-hold policy is a pending protocol being developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC.) No doubt it will go far in fighting the spread of CRE.

National Surveillance

Currently, only 20 states require health care facilities to report CRE. While this is a dramatic increase from just two years ago when only 6 states required reporting, many officials now feel that there should be national surveillance of CRE with all states required to report.

“CRE infections already are endemic in several major U.S. population centers, including New York, Los Angeles and Chicago, which account for hundreds of confirmed cases. Smaller pockets of cases have been reported across much of the country, including Oregon, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia and South Carolina.” – USA TODAY

Other experts advocate taking surveillance beyond mandatory reporting. To assist hospitals with infection control isolation, Illinois runs a state registry of CRE-infected patients.   Health officials can survey hospital lab data for CRE, and hospitals can routinely monitor high-risk areas.

When Los Angeles last conducted a county CRE survey in 2011, they discovered a lot more cases than they expected.   The study revealed 675 cases for a one-year period ending in May 2011.

“Two-thirds of the 102 acute-care hospitals analyzed had at least one case. The infection rate was significantly higher inside the eight long-term-care facilities reviewed.” – Los Angeles Times

Surveillance and reporting will help experts understand how CRE is transmitted in the health care system so they can better fight its spread.

UV Robots

Some health care organizations are employing the use of new technology to kill CRE and other deadly germs in hospital rooms – robots that emit ultraviolet light.

Merlin, a 5-foot tall robot made by San Antonio-based company Xenex, cost Providence Tarzana Medical Center just over $100,000. In just five minutes, Merlin sends out 450 pulses of UV light, obliterating drug-resistant bacteria like CRE from door handles to bed rails.

Nearly 300 of these robots are working hard to fight the spread of CRE in health care facilities here in the US.

Hand Hygiene and Glove Use

While germ-zapping robots may be coolest new tool to fight CRE, the front lines are still proper hand hygiene and glove use.

The CDC recommends 8 core measures to prevent the spread of CRE.

Number one on the list is strict adherence to hand hygiene.

  • “Hand hygiene is a primary part of preventing multidrug-resistant organism (MDRO) transmission.”
  • “It is not enough to have policies that require hand hygiene; hand hygiene adherence should be monitored and adherence rates should be fed directly back to front line staff.”
  • “Further information on hand hygiene is available at CDCs Hand Hygiene in Healthcare Settings

Number two is the Proper Use of Contact Precautions, including:

  • “Performing hand hygiene before donning a gown and gloves”
  • “Donning gown and gloves before entering the affected patient’s room”
  • “Removing the gown and gloves and performing hand hygiene prior to exiting the affected patient’s room”

Patients requiring ventilators, on urinary and intravenous catheters, and patients on long courses of certain antibiotics are at higher risk for CRE infections. With new surveillance, new technology, and diligent adherence to proper hand hygiene and glove use, we can minimize the risk to millions.

What is your health care facility doing to fight the spread of CRE?  Share your comments below.


Hand Hygiene Before Gloving – How Important?

Hand Hygiene Before Gloving - How Important?

If you work anywhere in the health care industry, you are likely aware of the importance of performing proper hand hygiene and glove use to reduce the spread of infectious organisms.

In the “Five Moments for Hand Hygiene” as outlined by the World Health Organization (WHO,) the first “moment” for performing hand hygiene is Before Patient Contact.

But is this step really necessary, especially when you are about to don a pair of gloves before touching the patient?

Recent studies on unused, non-sterile exam gloves removed from glove boxes in patient areas suggest it really is that important.

Glove Contamination in the ICU

At University Medical Center, a 412-bed tertiary care hospital in Lubbock, TX, a study compared rates and burden of non-sterile glove contamination among specialty ICUs.

A total of ninety glove pair samples were taken from occupied rooms in a 32-bed Medical ICU, a 21-bed Trauma/Surgical ICU, and a 6-bed Burn ICU.  The gloves were collected from glove boxes housed in glove box dispensers or patient carts in patient rooms where health care providers had unrestricted access to the gloves.

The results?

“We found an average contamination rate of 81.1% across all glove pairs sampled with an average bioburden of 5.83 CFU (SD = 8.04).”  These findings were consistent with previous studies, where contamination rates were 55-87% and average bioburdens ranged from 3.4-6.2 CFU per glove pair.

The study also found evidence of methicillin-resistant organism (MRO) contamination on 36.7% of glove pairs sampled.  The study noted that “because our contamination rate estimate most likely underestimates the true rate of MRO contamination due to the selective culturing process followed, actual rates of MRO contamination may be higher than those reported in this study.”

Pathogen Contamination in a Large Ward

Another study conducted in New Zealand investigated glove use on a hospital orthopaedic ward to examine whether pathogen contamination occurs prior to contact with patients.

Glove samples were removed from boxes on opening and days 3, 6 and 9 thereafter.

The results?

“Total bacterial counts ranged from 0 to 9.6 x 103 cfu/glove.  Environmental bacteria, particularly Bacillus species, were present on 31/38 (81.6%) of samples.  Half (19/38) the samples were contaminated with skin commensals; coagulase negative staphylococci were predominant.  Enterococcus faecalis , Klebsiella pneumoniae , Pseudomonas sp. or methicillin susceptible Staphylococcus aureus were recovered from 5/38 (13.2%) of samples.  Significantly more skin commensals and pathogens were recovered from samples from days 3, 6, 9 than box-opening samples.”

Clearly, both studies demonstrate that health care workers can introduce pathogenic bacteria into glove boxes, and unused, non-sterile exam gloves can become pathogen transmission vehicles in hospitals and potentially other healthcare settings.

Adhering to handwashing guidelines and performing hand hygiene before donning gloves is a critical, not to be skipped step in reducing the spread of dangerous bacteria.


Gloves, Handrubs and HAIs in the Dental Setting

staphylococcus aureus in the dental setting

Health care associated infections, or HAIs, can be acquired anywhere health care is delivered, including the dental office.  As a dental clinician or dentist, you know that proper hand hygiene and gloving is essential to your patient’s safety as well as your own.

But how prevalent are infectious agents such as bacteria, fungi and viruses in the dental setting?  And is your current hand hygiene routine enough to prevent HAIs?

Dental Staph

A recent study conducted by the Department of Public Health and Infectious Diseases at Sapienza University, in Rome, Italy, investigated staphylococci contamination on disposable gloves and clinical surfaces in the dental setting.

Environmental samples were collected from the tray and gloved dominant hand soon after dental therapy of the second or third patient at 136 general dental practitioners’ offices.  Staphylococci were detected in 41% of the trays and 57% of the gloves.  Specifically, S. aureus was found in 5% of both tray and glove samples, and MRSA was detected on 1.5% of the glove and tray samples.

The study concluded that contact surfaces and gloves in the dental setting are “frequently contaminated.”

Studies like this underscore the importance of proper hand hygiene and proper donning and doffing of exam gloves.  But even if you are using the manufacturer’s recommended amount of alcohol-based handrub, another recent study warns that it may not be enough.

Pump Up the Volume

The Bode Science Center in Hamburg, Germany evaluated the effectiveness of different volumes of alcohol-based handrubs.  They used the manufacturer recommended product volumes of 1.1 mL, 2 mL, and 2.4 mL, as well as 1 and 2 pump dispenser pushes for foams and gels.

They discovered that 70% ethanol (v/v) handrubs at the recommended volume of 1.1 mL per application “did not ensure complete coverage of both hands and do not achieve current ASTM efficacy standards.”  Whereas an application of 2 mL of 85% w/w ethanol rub reduces contamination sufficiently to fulfill the US FDA efficacy requirement.

Proper Gloving and Handrub Guidelines

To provide the safest environment possible for yourself and your patients, diligently follow proper gloving and hand hygiene guidelines to reduce HAIs.  This includes handwashing or handrubbing before donning gloves, and immediately after careful removal of gloves.  And when using an alcohol-based handrub, use enough to completely cover all surfaces of your hands.

Share Your Experience – How is your office’s hand hygiene compliance?  What have you done to improve it?  Post your comments below.


Medical Gloves, Hand Hygiene Help Halt Deadly CRE

Gloves and Hand Hygiene Help Halt CRE

Hospital staffs across the country are doubling down on their efforts to stop the spread of hospital acquired infections (HAIs.)  While progress has been made in understanding and reducing the spread of MRSA, C. diff and other germs, there is a growing and far more deadly threat – carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae, or CRE.

CRE germs are resistant to antibiotics of last resort, killing one of every two patients who get bloodstream infections from them.  But it could be worse.  CRE can transfer their antibiotic resistance to other bacteria such as E. coli, making the most common cause of urinary tract infections extremely difficult to treat.  Ultimately, CRE could get out into our communities, leading to a public health crisis.

For these reasons, CDC has sounded the alarm.  In the March Vital Signs report, CDC published some alarming facts.  CRE has increased from 1% to 4% in the past decade, and one type of CRE has increased from 2% to 10%.  CRE is more common in the Northeast, but has been reported in 42 states.  About 18% of long-term care hospitals have reported at least one CRE infection during the first half of 2012.

The report also provides detailed information on what state governments, communities, health care CEOs, health care providers and patients can do to help stop the spread of CRE.

There are eight core measures for acute and long-term care facilities to implement, and at the top of the list are hand hygiene and the proper use of contact precautions.  This includes the proper use of medical gloves.

  • Hand hygiene should be performed before donning a gown and gloves.
  • Gown and gloves should be donned before entering the affected patient’s room.
  • Gown and gloves should be removed and hand hygiene performed, prior to exiting the patient’s room.

In the 2012 CRE Toolkit, the CDC states, “It is not enough to have policies that require hand hygiene; hand hygiene adherence should be monitored and adherence rates should be fed directly back to front line staff.  Immediate feedback should be provided to staff who miss opportunities for hand hygiene.”

By following CDC guidelines for CRE, several states have decreased their CRE infection rates.  Colorado is one of six states that currently require hospitals to report CRE to the Department of Public Health and Environment.  Because they are detecting and tracking the bacteria, an outbreak of CRE at the University of Colorado Hospital last August was halted.

In Florida, a year-long CRE outbreak was finally brought to an end when the facility improved its use of CDC recommendations, including the proper use of medical gloves and gowns.  This underlines the importance of proper gloving and hand hygiene, as routine as it may seem.

There is no longer any room for complacency.  This is a critical time here in the U.S.  CRE infections can be controlled if everyone involved in patient care does their part and puts forth consistent effort to follow infection control recommendations with every patient.

What do you think?  Can more be done to stop the spread of CRE?  Post your comments below.


Compounding Pharmacies – Sterile Gloves and Fingertip Sampling Required

The fungal meningitis outbreak caused by contaminated steroid medications made by New England Compounding Center in Framingham (NECC), Mass. has brought about a flurry of articles and blog posts calling for tighter regulations and direct FDA oversight of compounding pharmacies.  Some of the articles make it appear that compounding pharmacies are nothing more than renegade miniature drug companies making HRT medications and other controversial drugs.

While there appear to be some pharmacies that need to be reined in, most compounding pharmacies exist in hospitals.  These pharmacies normally prepare a medication to order, for a specific patient from a prescription.  Independent compounding pharmacies contract with hospitals and clinics to fill their compounded medication needs.  Many feel that NECC crossed the line from a traditional compounding pharmacy to a drug manufacturer with interstate commerce.

At the end of all of the debating and legal haranguing (which won’t end soon,) the primary issue is safety.  So what regulations are in place to help ensure that sterile medications from compounding pharmacies are safe?

USP 797

The U.S. Pharmacopoeia (USP) issued the first practice standards for compounding pharmacies in the U.S. back in 2004.  Chapter <797>, Pharmaceutical Compounding – Sterile Preparations, commonly referred to as USP 797, was updated in 2008, and is designed to cut down on infections transmitted to patients through “compounded sterile preparations” (CSPs).


After eight years, how are compounding pharmacies doing on compliance?  A nationwide Compliance Study conducted in 2011 and updated in 2012 shows that although the chapter has done much to improve the quality of CSPs, there is also much room for improvement.

Here is one example, a test called Gloved Fingertip/Thumb Sampling, designed to demonstrate that the compounder can properly don PPE and sterile gloves, and prepare a medication without contamination:

“In 2011, only 30% of hospitals complied with the requirement for all compounding personnel (including supervising pharmacists) to successfully complete at least three gloved fingertip/thumb sampling procedures (success is 0 CFUs for both hands) before being allowed to compound CSPs. This requirement is designed to verify that compounding personnel can properly don sterile gloves without contaminating them . . . in 2012, compliance with this requirement has increased to 36%.” – 2012 USP <797> Compliance Survey

This is certainly a cause for concern.  Skin cells are shed from the human body at a rate of a million or more per hour and these skin particles are laden with microorganisms.  Gloved Fingertip/Thumb Sampling measures both the microorganisms and particles in the controlled compounding environment and on surfaces like gloves.  It reveals poor aseptic technique or improper disinfection of sterile gloves.

Sterile gloves are a requirement in preparing CSPs.  Non-sterile exam gloves treated with 70% IPA have not been proven adequate in preventing contamination.  Eric Kastango, MBA, RPh, FASHP, president and CEO of Clinical IQ, LLC, a health care consulting firm in Madison, N.J., and a member of the 2010-2015 USP Compounding Expert Committee, states “The decision the USP committee made in requiring sterile gloves over nonsterile gloves is that you start with a pair of gloves with zero microbial bioburden and that it’s a very inexpensive way to maintain a state of control and prevent the risk for contamination and infections. It’s critical to make sure we’re giving patients the safest, best opportunity to have the lowest risk for contamination from compounded sterile preparations.”


So who enforces USP 797?  While the FDA regulates the ingredients, it does not regulate practitioners.  Compounders are regulated by a patchwork of state oversight, including Joint Commission and state pharmacy boards.  In general, the FDA has deferred to states in regard to USP 797, but it can investigate allegations of contaminated drugs, as in the case of NECC.

Compounding pharmacies can be sure that they will be coming under increased scrutiny and regulation.  Compliance with USP 797, which requires sterile gloves and a host of other safety standards is imperative.   By doing so, they can ensure the highest quality compounding environment and deliver ever-safer medications to the public.


Summary of USP 797 for Compounding Sterile Preparations



What do you think?  Are compounding pharmacies doing enough to comply with USP 797?  Share your comments below.

Proper Medical Glove Use and Hand Hygiene Reduces HAIs and Saves Lives

Proper Glove Use and Hand Hygiene Reduces HAIs and Saves Lives

[dropcap]W[/dropcap]hile medical facilities appear to have gained some ground against Hospital Acquired Infections (HAIs,) the problem is still a great and very real daily threat to human life.   Bacteria that cause HAIs, such as C. diff, MRSA, E. coli, and S. aureus result in an astounding 2 million infections a year and an estimated $6.7 billion in hospital costs.  The most sobering statistic is that these deadly infections kill 100,000 people each year – that’s more than all of the deaths from car accidents, AIDS and breast cancer in the U.S. combined.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO,) “hand hygiene is the single most important measure to protect patients, HCWs and the environment from microbial contamination.”  Unfortunately, compliance with this practice is dismally low.  According to the New England Journal of Medicine, less than 40% of Health Care Workers (HCWs) practice proper hand hygiene.

Several studies have shown that wearing medical gloves reduces hand hygiene compliance.  For instance, in one study HCWs were less likely to perform hand hygiene after removing gloves upon leaving a patients room.  In contrast, other studies have shown that glove use increased overall compliance, but these studies did not investigate glove misuse.  For these reasons the impact of wearing medical gloves on hand hygiene policies has not been determined.  One thing we know for certain, though, is that proper use of gloves combined with proper hand hygiene is critical to reducing infections.

WHO Guidelines for the appropriate and safe use of medical gloves includes the following:

Medical glove use does not obviate the need to comply with hand hygiene.  When hand hygiene is indicated, handwashing or handrubbing should be performed before donning gloves.

Careful attention should be paid to glove removal.  Gloves should be removed to perform handwashing or handrubbing to protect a body site from the flora from another body site previously touched on the same patient.  WHO states that “HCWs often fail to remove gloves between patients or between contact with various sites on a single patient, thus facilitating the spread of microorganisms.”

Perform hand hygiene after glove removal.  Hand hygiene must be performed immediately after glove removal to prevent HCW contamination and spread of microorganisms.

Clear direction about medical glove use should be provided.  HCWs should be able to clearly identify situations requiring gloves, situations that do not require gloves, and how to correctly select a glove.  This requires that medical facilities have clear glove use procedures to help HCWs reason and adjust their behavior to comply with proper hand hygiene and glove use.  This includes a clear understanding of when glove use should start and end.

Medical gloves should always be stored in their original boxes.   Tucking gloves away in pockets and carrying them about is not safe.   Gloves should remain in their original box until donned to ensure the gloves do not become contaminated.  This requires that glove boxes should always be available at point of care.

Appropriate use of medical gloves, combined with proper hand hygiene, is an evidence-based measure to protect HCWs, patients and the environment from HAIs.  HCWs that fail to remove gloves or perform proper hand hygiene between patients risk spreading deadly infections.

Fortunately, the medical community is working hard to increase compliance.  New education campaigns, surveillance programs and other tools are helping ensure more HCWs do their part to reduce the cost of HAIs  – in lives lost and the billions spent to treat them.

What do you think?  Can we do more to reduce HAIs with improved hand hygiene and glove use?

Exam Gloves’ Critical Role in Patient Safety

Healthcare professionals have long known the importance of proper glove use during patient care. For over twenty years, exam gloves have been worn to prevent transmission of bloodborne pathogens. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration mandates that gloves be worn during all patient-care activities that may involve exposure to blood or body fluids. So when we hear of a healthcare professional that has ignored such clear and common sense direction, the medical community and the public react with surprise and disgust.

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