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Addressing the issue of glove usage within hospitals

Martyn Hodgkinson
May 15, 2018



Throughout the Healthcare industry, glove use has become a key aspect of ward culture and is considered to be an important control measure for protecting both patients and staff. Yet inappropriate glove use can often lead to hand dermatitis – a painful condition that affects one in five nurses[1], and may require nursing staff to be moved out of clinical areas due to the risk of infection from damaged skin.


Inappropriate glove use, whether it’s over or under use, can place staff and patients at risk of contact dermatitis, infection, and missed opportunities for hand hygiene.


While gloves help to create a barrier between germs and hands, the prolonged use of gloves can lead to a lack of hand hygiene compliance, resulting in the spread of infection between patients and staff, and the passing of germs from one patient to the next.


In addition, if workers develop dermatitis, they are less likely to wash their hands due to the pain, thus resulting in the spread of infection further.


In the Healthcare sector, there may be many occasions when workers need to consider whether or not to wear gloves. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), Healthcare workers should either wash their hands or use an alcohol based hand rub immediately after taking off gloves[2] and the ‘5 Moments for Hand Hygiene’ should still be adhered to, regardless of glove use. This will ensure the risk of germs spreading is minimised.


However, it’s up to health care organisations to clearly communicate the message to ensure that gloves are only worn when they are needed, and that effective hand hygiene methods are put in place to prevent the spread of infection. 


Download Gloves Infographic


To address the issue, the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) in collaboration with DebMed, have worked together to alleviate increasing concerns over the inappropriate use of gloves by Healthcare workers. 

Coinciding with World Hand Hygiene day on May 5, the week of April 30 was designated as Glove Awareness Week. An updated version of Tools of the Trade: Guidance for Health Care Staff on Glove Use and the Prevention of Contact Dermatitis was released and provides useful insight into reducing healthcare-associated infections (HCAIs), raising awareness of skin health, hand hygiene, appropriate glove use, and  and the challenges faced by nursing staff. 





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