Changing medical gloves is vital for reducing the chances of contamination for healthcare workers. It also mitigates the risk of germ transmission from patient to patient, or patient to healthcare worker, and vice versa. But how often should you change medical gloves?
You should change surgical gloves every 90 minutes from the beginning of the operation for the surgeon and first assistant. But for the second assistants and scrub nurses, it should be every 150 minutes.
This article will explain critical questions related to this topic, including instances where you should change your gloves earlier, why you need to change your gloves, and the dos and don’ts for medical gloves.
Recommendations for Changing Surgical Gloves
Surgical gloves protect the patient, surgeon, and medical staff from germ and disease transmission. However, these gloves can easily get compromised during surgery, depending on the type of surgical operation.
Accordingly, a large body of literature is dedicated to investigating just how frequently you should change medical gloves.
According to a study by German researchers Harnoss and his colleagues, there are varying recommendations on how frequently medical personnel should change their gloves. This usually results in late changes or failure to change gloves at all, which introduces a significant degree of risk of transmission.
The study results mentioned above conclude that most of these recommendations set the interval for gloves changing from the 30th-minute mark to the 180th minute from the start of the surgery.
However, in surgery associated with visceral organs, the researchers note that the recommended frequency for glove changing it after every 90 minutes for the surgeon and first assistants, while scrub nurses and second assistants should change their gloves after every 150 minutes.
Because of the differences in the type of surgical operations being performed and the different degrees of impact that this may have on the gloves, the recommended frequency is not the same for all instances.
The above views are consistent with recommendations submitted by Patty Taylor, the Vice President of Professional Education and Clinical Affairs, and Ansell, who explains that changing surgical gloves every 90 to 150 minutes can significantly reduce surgical site infections.
Patty Taylor also explains that studies into surgical gloves have shown that changing gloves within 90 minutes or less only results in 15.4% of micro-perforations. In contrast, changing your gloves after 90 minutes but less than 150 minutes results in increased micro-perforations by an additional 2.7%.
These micro-perforations increase to 23.7% if you wear your surgical gloves for over 150 minutes.
Keeping this in mind and borrowing from the results from Harnoss and colleagues, changing your gloves after every 90 minutes or less is recommended. Still, the frequency of change to 150 minutes or less is also acceptable.
Other Factors That Affect Frequency of Glove Changing Intervals
There are other considerations to keep in mind when using surgical gloves. These are summarized below.
Take Your Gloves Off After Caring for Every Patient
According to the World Health Organization, you should change your gloves after caring for every patient.
Therefore, you should not use the same gloves when caring for more than one patient. This is because there is expected contact with blood or other bodily fluids when caring for a patient, which could potentially result in the transmission of infectious material from one patient to the other.
Change Your Gloves After Moving From a Contaminated Body Site to Another Site
The WHO also recommends changing gloves if you move from one contaminated body site to another. This applies even when this is within the same environment and for the same patient. The WHO notes that this especially applies to key body sites such as non-intact skin and the mucous membrane.
Change Your Gloves if They Get Punctured
Another practical recommendation for medical glove use by the WHO is to change your gloves as soon as possible when the integrity of the glove is compromised. For instance, if the gloves are punctured, you should change them as soon as possible and practice proper hand hygiene before wearing another set.
This also applies to any other instance where the glove is compromised, such as tearing or damage in any other manner.
How To Use Medical and Surgical Gloves
There are several suggestions for how to use surgical gloves properly.
As recommended by the experts at Save Rite Medical and backed up by the WHO, you should take time to inspect your gloves regularly to make sure that they are not damaged or punctured. You don’t have to wait 90 minutes to change your gloves if you suspect they may be torn or punctured.
It is also essential to dispose of your gloves after use properly because your bare hands might come into contact with potentially infectious bodily fluids or secretions.
You should also wash your hands thoroughly before and after using surgical gloves. As a good rule of thumb, use water and soap to ensure that you protect yourself and your patient during care.
In countries with a high prevalence of infectious diseases such as HIV, HPV, or HBV, the WHO recommends double-gloving, especially if the procedure takes more than 30 minutes or is associated with a significant amount of bodily secretions or blood.
In the same breath, there are several don’ts to keep in mind.
However, one of the first things you should not do is use the same gloves when caring for more than one patient. You should also avoid petroleum-based creams or lotions because they negatively impact glove integrity. This also applies to alcohol-based hand products.
It is essential to change your gloves for your own safety and your patient’s safety. The recommended frequency for changing your gloves is after 90 minutes to 150 minutes, earlier being better than later.
Take precautions to ensure that your gloves are not compromised, and use the proper techniques for wearing and removing gloves to protect yourself against potentially infectious material.
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- Your Glove Source: How Often Should You Change Your Disposable Gloves?
- World Health Organization: Glove Use Information Leaflet
- Save Rite Medical: Medical Gloves – How Often Should You Change Them?
- National Library of Medicine: What is the Appropriate Time-Interval for Changing Gloves During Surgical Procedures
- Medical Design and Outsourcing: Reducing SSI With Surgical Glove Best Practices