Archive Infection Control 2018

Twice the Protection

Double gloving prevents injury and infection, so why aren't more surgical teams doing it?

Richard Abowitz


Surgical Instrument
IT TAKES TWO Concerns about a loss of dexterity and tactile sensitivity when double gloving are largely unfounded.

It doesn't make much sense to settle for having a thin layer of neoprene between your hands and the dangers of surgery when doubling gloving has been proven to offer added protection against sharps injuries and bloodborne pathogens. But many surgeons and nurses still refuse to don an extra pair of gloves due to concerns about losing the dexterity and tactile sensitivity needed to perform surgery. Convincing them to give doubling up a try demands dangling a carrot, swinging a soft stick and finding gloves with just the right fit.

1. Emphasize its importance

The benefits and safety margin of double gloving are still not clear to many surgical team members, according to Mary J. Ogg, MSN, RN, CNOR, senior perioperative practice specialist at AORN. "Anytime you have a hole in your glove, you could be increasing the risk for surgical site infections," she says. "A double layer of gloves reduces the risk of exposure to bloodborne pathogens and also reduces the risk of healthcare workers transmitting any type of bloodborne pathogens to patients."

CLEAR INDICATOR Wearing different colored gloves make small tears on the outerglove more visible and alerts staff to change into intact pairs.

Jos H. Verbeek, MD, PhD, a senior researcher at the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, says the evidence for double gloving's benefits is irrefutable. "The argument for double gloving is that it protects better against needlestick injuries," he says. "Dozens of randomized trials have shown that the number of perforations in inner gloves is greatly reduced compared with the number in single gloves."

If you've been doing something one way for many years, there's a reluctance to change. A lot of surgical professionals have always used single gloves and have never been injured. But that does not change the fact that double gloving improves safety for both patients and staff.

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