Glove Use and HAIs

If our staff are constantly using gloves, shouldn’t that impact HAIs?

Certainly! Glove use is a vital tool in the toolbelt of HAI prevention, just as hand washing guidelines and hand sanitizing stations are tools. No single item or protocol, however, can be used alone to provide total security against pathogen transmission. The CDC1 notes that gloves can “reduce hand contamination by 70 percent to 80 percent” when used appropriately, though managing and maintaining appropriate use is, unsurprisingly, fraught with complications.

If you contaminate a glove, it has prevented a pathogen from getting on your hands. This does not, however, prevent the pathogen from spreading from your glove to any person or item that you then touch. Glove use, then, must follow the same Standard Precautions2 and be held to the same rigors3 as ungloved hand hygiene. Additionally, gloves – like many other single-use PPE items – come with their own protocols for donning and doffing4 and can be expensive to maintain so that they are readily available in all sizes and in all appropriate areas. Further, continuous wear exacerbates pathogen transmissions in those scenarios where gloves are not readily available. A 2020 paper from the National Center for Biotechnology Information5 found that “The continued wearing of gloves during patient-related activities carries the risk of organism transmission, as the gloves touch many surfaces. Unexpectedly, almost one quarter of the observed risks for organism transmission occurred when contaminated gloves touched unused single-use items such as sterile dressings, syringes and equipment for venepuncture.” Another study, published in the American Journal of Infection Control6, found that “More than 44 percent of the gloved touch points were observed as contaminated, with all contaminated touches being with gloved hands.” 

The use of gloves does not eliminate the need for hand hygiene. Likewise, the use of hand hygiene does not eliminate the need for gloves. A robust and effective Infection Prevention strategy requires multiple layers of coverage, including sterile processing, PPE use and hand sanitization policies, with each policy strengthening the others and providing comprehensive coverage to break the cycle of HAIs. 

If you’d like to see how adding a Mirador system into your Infection Prevention strategy can provide meaningful data to your teams – reducing infection transmission and manual tracking! – contact us today for a free consultation.

  1. cdc.gov.
  2. cdc.gov.
  3. Mirador Health Solutions, October 2022.
  4. cdc.gov.
  5. NCBI, September 2020.
  6. AJIC via Science Daily, September 2017.

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