Medical exam gloves are an incredibly effective method of protecting yourself and your patients from the spread of harmful germs and other microorganisms when used correctly. However, when worn and used without caution, even the best medical-grade exam gloves can be rendered ineffective. Unfortunately, glove misuse is all too prevalent in healthcare facilities around the world. The following steps will help to make sure you’re taking proper precautions to maximize the effectiveness of your disposable exam gloves, and keep you and your patients safe from infection.
The World Health Organization recommends five key moments to wash your hands when working with a patient to maximize infection control – before patient contact, before an aseptic task, after body fluid exposure risk, after patient contact, and after contact with patient surroundings. These guidelines will help control the risks of exposure to harmful germs for both you and the patient.
Disposable gloves are meant to be just that – disposable. Never wash and reuse gloves. Doing so has been associated with the transmission of pathogens. Gloves should be removed and changed AFTER contact with bodily fluids, including blood, BEFORE coming in contact with a new patient, and when moving BETWEEN clean and contaminated sites on a patient. Always wash your hands before grabbing a new pair, as unwashed contaminated hands reaching into the box can contaminate entire boxes of unused disposable gloves.
It is also important to check gloves for imperfections before each use. Although all SW gloves are rigorously checked and tested for quality control, it is a good idea to double check and make sure there are no visible tears, punctures or manufacturing defects. A halo effect may be visible around debris imbedded in glove material, which may indicate a weakened area that could fracture during use. This is sometimes found at the glove’s fingertips, where a drop of liquid material may have solidified during production.
If you follow these best practice steps you will maximize the effectiveness of your exam gloves, and help protect yourself and your patients from the harmful spread of infection.