Glove use may thwart hand hygiene, particularly among nurses

The use of examination gloves in hospitals may present a barrier to hand hygiene, especially among nurses, according to a study cited by Healio.

According to the World Health Organization, examination gloves should only be worn in certain scenarios and hands should be washed before and after putting gloves on. Evidence suggests inappropriate use of gloves was a significant cause of missed opportunities for proper hand hygiene in healthcare settings, the researchers wrote in Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology.

For the study, "hand hygiene performance of [healthcare professionals] providing hands-on inpatient care was measured by a validated observer using a 'secret shopper' method focused on wash-in and wash-out [hand hygiene] opportunities and instances where gloves were worn in lieu of [hand hygiene]," the researchers said.

The researchers found hand hygiene compliance was about 74 percent for both wash-in and wash-out opportunities during the four-month study period, and the highest percentage of hand hygiene opportunities (41 percent) were performed by registered nurses, followed by licensed independent practitioners (16 percent), including physicians, physician assistants and advanced practice registered nurses.

Forty-five percent of the wash-in episodes that lacked compliance with hand hygiene protocols were performed by registered nurses, and 44 percent of all wash-in episodes that lacked this compliance were performed by staff who wore gloves. These episodes were seen more often among registered nurses (47 percent), the study found.

The researchers found several reasons healthcare professionals used gloves, such as protection and safety of staff and patients, availability of gloves and previous medical training.

Hospitals may consider re-educating healthcare professionals about proper glove use and hand hygiene, the researchers said.

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