Wearing gloves for clinical contact: always assess the riskBMJ 2019; 366 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.l4996 (Published 06 August 2019) Cite this as: BMJ 2019;366:l4996
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Gloves are a primary prevention measure against biological risk, and although they do not prevent puncture, they have been shown to reduce the volume of blood transferred significantly, reducing the risk of infections with biological agents.
Therefore, gloves are the most important protective barrier in preventing contamination with potentially infectious biological material (such as blood, body fluids, secretions, mucous membranes and non-intact skin of patients) and reduce the likelihood of transmission of microorganisms.
Gloves constitute a protective measure which has been in generalized use in the healthcare environment since the 1980s with the introduction of universal precautions, but their improper or indiscriminate use entails risks, both for patients and staff, which can reduce or eliminate their protective effect.
We must also be aware of the dual character of the glove, acting as personal protective equipment and medical device combined.
The use of inadequate gloves cause the worker to have a false sense of security and compromises the patient's safety. Therefore, there is no control over the cost-effectiveness of the use of gloves.
The use of non-sterile gloves in hospitals is intended to avoid physical contact with secretions, fluids, skin, mucous membranes and dirty or contaminated materials in maneuvres and risk procedures This justifies that in many hospitals around the world, nurses carry out campaigns for the use of non-sterile gloves, whose indications have been well specified as in:
• Hygiene of bedridden patients
• Obtaining samples for analysis
• Removal of peripheral vascular pathways
• Oropharyngeal aspirations
• Change of colostomy bag
• Secretion management, urine
• Contact with biosanitary waste
• Cleaning of equipment, diverse and instrumental material
• Post-mortem care
• Peripheral track channeling
• Handling and administration of cytostatics.
The use of gloves is not without adverse reactions, the most common are irritative contact dermatitis, allergic contact dermatitis and immediate hypersensitivity reactions.
Campaigns for the use of non-sterile gloves in hospitals aim to achieve a rational use of gloves in hospital services.
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Competing interests: No competing interests