Glove Use Linked to Reduced Hand Hygiene Compliance

Gloves often worn when not indicated, and not worn when indicated

THURSDAY, Nov. 10 (HealthDay News) -- Glove usage among healthcare workers is often inappropriate, and hand hygiene compliance is worse when gloves are worn, according to a study published online Oct. 17 in Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology.

Christopher Fuller, R.G.N., from University College London, and colleagues investigated whether gloves were worn when indicated, and the impact of gloves on hand hygiene compliance in health care workers from 56 medical or elderly care wards and intensive care units in 15 hospitals. A total of 7,578 moments of hand hygiene (1,002 moments with glove usage and 2,686 moments without) were observed during 249 hourly sessions. Whether gloves were or were not worn for individual contacts (3,292 low-risk and 669 high-risk contacts) was also recorded.

The investigators found that gloves were used in 26.2 percent of hand hygiene moments. Gloves were used in 16.7 percent of low-risk contacts, and were not used in 21.1 percent of high-risk contacts. The rate of hand hygiene compliance with and without glove use was 41.4 and 50 percent, respectively. Glove use correlated strongly with reduced levels of hand hygiene after adjusting for ward, health care worker type, contact risk level, and whether the hand hygiene opportunity occurred before or after patient contact.

"Raising the rate of compliance with hand hygiene when gloves are worn to the levels observed when gloves are not worn might only have a small effect on the overall rate of hand hygiene compliance but could have a major effect on the transmission of infection," the authors write.

The study was partially funded by GOJO Industries, which manufactures skin health and hygiene products.

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