CNAs often fail to swap out contaminated medical gloves, study finds

Certified nursing assistants frequently exhibit inappropriate glove use in long-term care facilities, which can put patients at risk of infection, according to a study published in the American Journal of Infection Control.

For the study, researchers examined CNA glove use through a random sampling of 74 patient care events in which CNAs aided patients with toileting and perineal care at a long-term care facility. Researchers defined inappropriate glove use as not swapping out contaminated gloves for fresh ones or touching a surface with contaminated gloves.

CNAs wore gloves for 80.2 percent of touch points, but failed to change gloves at 66.4 percent of glove change points. More than 44 percent of the gloved touch points were defined as contaminated, and all contaminated touches occurred with gloved hands. Notably, replacement gloves were available on all units during the patient care events.

"Gloves are an essential component of standard precautions, and proper use of gloves is a critical component of best practices to prevent [healthcare-associated infections]," said Linda Greene, RN, 2017 APIC president. "This is especially important in long-term care, where residents are more vulnerable to infection and stay for extended periods. Facilities must continually educate healthcare providers about the importance of appropriate glove use to prevent infection and monitor adherence to this practice."

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