Gloves transfer bacteria between hospital surfaces, study finds

Although healthcare workers use gloves to protect both patients and themselves from bacterial contamination, new research suggests gloves themselves may play a significant role in transferring bugs between hospital surfaces.

Clinicians from the Nippon Medical School in Bunkyo, Japan, presented data at a June 19 American Society for Microbiology conference in Boston that looked at cross-contamination rates for nitrile examination gloves by introducing bacteria to gloves then measuring the residue they left on sterile surfaces. Of the bacteria tested, including Acinetobacter baumannii, Escherichia coli, Klebsiella pneuomoniae and Pseudomonas aeruginosa, only A. baumannii remained on the surfaces.

"This study shows that contaminated gloves increase risks of cross-transmission of healthcare-associated pathogens among healthcare workers and in the environment," Sae Otani, author of the study, said in a statement. Failing to remove or change contaminated gloves carries a higher risk of transmitting bacteria that cause hospital-acquired infections, the authors concluded. 

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