It seems every doctor and healthcare worker has their own opinion on what’s the best medical safety glove and why.
While variety may well be the spice of life, it can be a complicated whole box and dice when it comes to choosing the right healthcare safety gloves.
Without being a simpleton about it, here’s some ways to simplify the evaluation and selection process.
The advice is based on a report by Raylene M. Ballard, senior project officer in the Health Devices Group at the American-based ECRI Institute, an independent, non-profit group which researches the best ways to improve the safety, quality and cost-effectiveness of medical care.
All about fit and feel in safety gloves preference deal
Some like it as snug as a bug in a rug and others a little on the loose.
It’s fit and feel that usually clinches the deal in healthcare workers’ safety gloves choice.
This includes tactile sensation – how easy it is to feel the difference between items – and manual dexterity – how easily you can use your fingers.
Steps to choosing the right safety gloves for you and your co-workers (as recommended in the ECRI Institute report):
- Know the quantity and types of safety gloves currently in use.
- Survey your healthcare workers to determine if the current gloves meet their needs. Do the gloves hold up during difficult surgeries, create hand fatigue or limit dexterity?
- Are present practices such as double gloving or changing safety gloves during a long procedure in line with recommended practices?
- Are workers interested in trying different types of specialist gloves, such as those labelled for orthopaedic surgery?
- Arrange for medical safety gloves samples to be examined by your purchasing committee and talk to supplier representatives.
- Organise trials of the gloves with your doctors and healthcare workers.
Choosing between Natural Rubber Latex and synthetic
The most popular medical and surgery safety gloves have traditionally been made of Natural Rubber Latex, so much so that healthcare workers and patients have developed sensitivities to latex.
Reactions can range from urticaria (a localised skin reaction) to anaphylaxis (a systemic reaction).
Workers can also experience two other types of reactions from wearing safety gloves, both unrelated to latex:
Irritant contact dermatitis is a non-allergic reaction causing bumps, sores and cracks in the skin.
Type IV hypersensitivity is an allergic reaction to chemicals called thiurams, thiazoles and carbamates used during glove manufacturing. It appears as a raised area on the skin and usually with a delay of several hours after exposure.
Ms Ballard reports that for health and safety reasons, it is common practice to provide latex-sensitive workers with synthetic gloves.
But this may not be enough to protect latex-sensitive staff.
They may still suffer from rhinitis and other allergic reactions from working near staff wearing latex gloves which are powdered.
There are also reports of glove powder contaminating wounds and causing granulomas, peritonitis, adhesions and delayed wound healing.
Due to the potential for powder dispersals, many hospitals and healthcare facilities have switched to powder-free gloves.
Final advice on right healthcare hand device
Ms Ballard concludes in her ECRI Institute report:
“Perhaps the most important concept when purchasing gloves is recognising that pleasing every member on the staff will be difficult, if not impossible. Strive to provide a glove that meets the needs of most of your staff in terms of fit, comfort, tactile sensitivity and dexterity, and donning and removal ease, while still being fiscally responsible”