Glove Use Should be Emphasized as Key Part of Sharps Injury Prevention

Standard precautions are recommended to help decrease the number of sharps-related injuries but some researchers say the effectiveness of gloves in preventing such injuries has not been established. Kinlin, et al. (2010) sought to evaluate factors associated with gloving practices and identified associations between gloving practices and sharps injury risk.

In a study conducted in 13 medical centers in the United States and Canada, the researchers examined the circumstances involved in healthcare workers who presented to employee health clinics after sustaining a sharps-related injury. The researchers administered structured telephone questionnaires to assess usual behaviors and circumstances at the time of injury.

The researchers report that of 636 injured healthcare workers, 195 were scrubbed in an operating room or procedure suite when injured, and 441 were injured elsewhere. Non-scrubbed individuals were more commonly gloved when treating patients who were perceived to have a high risk of human immunodeficiency virus, hepatitis B virus, or hepatitis C virus infection than when treating other patients.

Nurses and other employees were less commonly gloved at injury than were physicians and physician trainees. The researchers report that gloves reduced injury risk in casecrossover analyses. In scrubbed individuals, involvement in an orthopedic procedure was associated with double-gloving at injury; this gloving practice was associated with decreased injury risk.

Kinlin, et al. (2010) conclude that although the use of gloves reduces the risk of sharps injuries, use among healthcare workers is inconsistent and may be influenced by risk perception and organizational culture. They say that glove use should be emphasized as a key element of multimodal sharps injury reduction programs.

Reference: Kinlin LM, Mittleman MA, Harris AD, Rubin MA and Fisman DN. Use of Gloves and Reduction of Risk of Injury Caused by Needles or Sharp Medical Devices in Healthcare Workers: Results from a Case Crossover Study. Infect Control Hosp Epidemiol. 2010;31:908-917.

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