Nitril gloves in hospitals
22 December 2021
Why is the use of gloves in hospitals so important?
In the context of current worldwide health concerns, personal protective gear such as masks and gloves has become an important subject. The sudden increase in demand for these items has caused global shortages, and companies were forced to quickly scale up their production. Despite disposable gloves being widely used in many industries: chemical, electronics, mechanical, beauty, hospitals and other health-related institutions are critical users. The scarcity of personal protective equipment in this industry may have disastrous consequences. Patient safety and health are every hospital’s number one priority. Therefore, medical gloves are an integral part of personal protective equipment for healthcare workers. According to the World Health Organisation, there are two main reasons behind using disposable gloves: to protect caregivers from contamination during contact with blood and other bodily fluids and to prevent germ transmission from healthcare professionals to patients and from one patient to another. To significantly increase the efficacy of gloves, they should be combined with appropriate hand sanitation before donning, as well as after removing them. Since there are no effective methods of decontamination, the reuse of disposable gloves is strongly discouraged by health authorities. Many countries have protocols in place to prioritize hospitals in case of any foreseen shortages of single-use gloves.
Types of gloves used in hospitals.
There are many different types of gloves available on the market. However, those used in hospitals should be selected with great care since the wellbeing of patients and employees may depend on it. There are a variety of activities performed by health care workers, which require the use of gloves. As such, there are different types of disposable medical gloves. Examination gloves are to be used during procedures that do not require sterile conditions, like drawing blood. Some of them protect the wearer from hazardous chemicals or pharmaceuticals. Surgical gloves are sterile and individually packed in pairs. They have a more precise range of sizing than examination gloves, and their manufacturers are required to meet higher levels of quality standards. Latex, nitrile and vinyl are the most common materials to make gloves from. Initially, latex gloves dominated the market due to the physical properties of natural rubber: elasticity, resistance to tearing and protection against a range of hazards. However, since latex may cause an allergic reaction, preference has shifted towards gloves that are made from alternative materials. Vinyl gloves are made of PVC, and their most significant benefit is low manufacturing cost, which makes them an affordable choice. However, they offer limited protection against chemical and biological exposure. They are therefore recommended only in non-hazardous environments. Nitrile gloves contain synthetic rubber made by combining butadiene and acrylonitrile. Durability, superior strength, and puncture resistance (confirmed by scientific research) are some of the characteristics that make nitrile the best alternative to natural rubber.
Advantages of using nitrile gloves in hospitals.
Nitrile disposable gloves are one of the most used gloves in the medical sector. Here are some of their most important advantages:
Reduced risk of an allergic reaction
The most significant disadvantage of using latex is the risk of allergic reaction causing itchy skin, hives or even a life-threatening condition called anaphylaxis. It might not only apply to the person wearing gloves but also to the patient. This risk is significantly reduced when choosing synthetic rubber – nitrile, as it does not contain latex proteins.
Better puncture resistance
This property refers to the amount of force that must be applied before the tool or object pierces through the glove. In a medical environment using high-quality personal protective equipment, testing according to the highest standards is crucial since healthcare workers use delicate, sharp objects, such as needles. Nitrile gloves were assessed to have significantly higher puncture resistance when compared with other glove types.
Due to their physical properties, nitrile gloves offer better protection from chemicals, oils, and acids. This makes them the best choice for medical facilities using chemotherapy drugs. Disposable gloves used for that purpose go through a series of additional performance tests to show what level of protection a glove offers. This is proof that choosing suitable gloves for a hospital and any other medical institution is essential.
As body temperature warms the nitrile gloves, they conform to the wearer’s hand for a better, comfortable fit. This allows users to perform tasks requiring precision and decreases hand fatigue even after an extended use time.
Although powdered gloves are easier to don, they might cause severe threats to patients’ health, including airway or wound inflammation and allergic reactions. Nitrile gloves are powder-free, which makes them safe for patients.
Available in many different colours
Since the introduction of nitrile gloves in the mid-1990s, the market has evolved significantly. There is a variety of different colours available, making nitrile gloves ideal for colour coding practices. Health care workers may use other coloured gloves for different handlings and use colour coding while double gloving. The last method allows identifying rips or tears in the outer glove quickly.
Additional safety measures while using gloves.
Gloves have proven effectiveness in preventing contamination of healthcare workers. However, they should be used in combination with some general safety and hygiene measures. Hand hygiene and hand washing is the key factor here. There are also techniques of donning and removing the gloves that need to be followed closely to prevent workers’ hands from becoming contaminated. In case of any rips or tears on the glove, they should be changed as soon as possible. Double gloving is advised in some cases, such as the risk of hepatitis or HIV and lengthy surgical procedures requiring contact with large amounts of blood and other bodily fluids. As previously mentioned, reuse of gloves is not recommended, even after decontamination, since there are no standardized and validated methods for safe glove reprocessing that have proven to be effective.