Wearing Gloves Does Not Mean a Sterile Medical Environment

Just because your dentist is wearing gloves does not mean that his hands are clean. In fact, a recent study in the journal Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology concluded that just the opposite is true.

The study looked at more than 7,000 doctor-patient interactions in 56 wards across 15 hospitals in England and Wales and found that health care workers wore gloves in roughly a quarter of all contacts with patients, and in 60 percent of those cases did not clean their hands either before or after treating the patient. This is disquieting because germs can travel through latex and are often worn when doctors are treating the sickest, most infectious patients. Furthermore, when the gloves are removed sometimes what’s known as a “back spray” effect can occur in which the germs are snapped back onto the wearer’s person by the pliant rubber protection.

Dr. Sheldon Stone, lead author of the study said he and his colleagues wanted to dispel the myth and get across to hospital workers the idea of “The Dirty Hand in the Latex Glove.”

“We want health care workers to avoid it,” he said. “It’s gross. And it’s not just a British phenomenon. I’m sure if you went all over you would find it.”

(Source: NY Times)

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