Glove contamination spreads hospital infection risk

hands

Preventing patient harm due to poor hand hygiene is a major priority within hospitals, and the use of gloves is one of the industry’s top safeguards against it. However, contamination of those gloves may be a major contributor to cross-transmission of pathogens in hospitals, according to a new study from the American Society for Microbiology (ASM) presented at ASM Microbe 2016 Boston.

Researchers, led by Kazue Fujita of Nippon Medical School in Tokyo and Sae Otani of Bunkyo Gakuin University, both based in Tokyo, inoculated nitrile examination gloves with common hospital-associated pathogens, touched the contaminated gloves to sterilized hospital surfaces and tabulated the number of viable bacteria left on the surfaces. They found Acinetobacter baumannii remained on the surfaces while E. coli, K. pneumoniae and P. aeruginosa did not.

"This study shows that contaminated gloves increase risks of cross-transmission of healthcare-associated pathogens among healthcare workers and in the environment," Otani said in the research announcement. The findings are particularly troubling in light of research showing just how common glove contamination is among healthcare workers. A study published in JAMA Internal Medicine last October found that nearly 50 percent of medical workers contaminated their own skin or clothes in the process of taking off gowns or gloves, even when they put it on correctly, FierceHealthcare previously reported.

To make a meaningful difference in terms of healthcare-associated infection risk, providers should make sure to carefully and properly remove their gloves after use, Otani said.

- read the study announcement

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