Health care workers who wear contaminated gloves can transfer bacteria onto hospital surfaces, a new study warns.
“Infection control is a priority for all hospitals to reduce the spread of [bacteria],” said study author Sae Otani, a master course student at Bunkyo Gakuin University in Japan.
“Gloving is recommended as a barrier protection for health care workers to reduce the risk of contamination during contact with infectious sputum [saliva], urine and body fluids,” but not changing or removing contaminated gloves carries a high risk of transmitting harmful germs, she noted in a news release from the American Society for Microbiology (ASM).
For the study, Otani and her colleagues contaminated examination gloves with certain types of bacteria found in hospitals and other health care facilities. They then touched the gloves to a sterilized polypropylene surface. The amount of bacteria on the surface was then measured.
“This study shows that contaminated gloves increase risks of cross-transmission of health care-associated pathogens among health care workers and in the environment,” Otani said.
“Proper glove use may decrease the risk of health care-associated infections and gloves should be carefully used and removed after use depending on the types of bacteria,” she concluded.
The study was presented recently at an ASM meeting in Boston. Research presented at meetings should be considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed medical journal.
The National Patient Safety Foundation has more about preventing infections in the hospital.