Healthcare workers frequently contaminate themselves when taking off gloves, gowns

Healthcare workers often contaminate their skin and clothing when they remove gloves and gowns, which can put them at risk for infection, according to a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine.

For the study, one group of healthcare personnel from four Ohio hospitals participated in a simulation of taking off contaminated personal protective equipment using fluorescent lotion and a black light, and another group of healthcare personnel from one hospital did the same but with education and practice in removal of contaminated PPE.

Of the 435 glove and gown removal simulations, contamination with the florescent lotion happened 200 times, or 46 percent. The education intervention reduced skin and clothing contamination from 60 percent before to 18.9 percent after, and that was sustained after one month and three months.

"These findings highlight the urgent need for additional studies to determine effective strategies to minimize the risk of contamination during PPE removal, to improve PPE design and to identify optimal methods for training of personnel in PPE use," according to the study authors.

Specifically, educational interventions that involve practice and immediate feedback were found to be effective.

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