The question is: how often should surgical gloves be changed? Healthcare professionals need to know when they need to change their gloves.
In general, you will need to change gloves when they become damaged. But you should not wait until it happens before changing gloves.
There is a number of recommended precautions as to when you need to change surgical gloves. This post will talk about the conditions where you need to do so.
Take note that surgical gloves serve as a barrier of protection against the transmission of pathogens like germs, and viruses, among others.
They are also necessary to reduce the infections that may take place at a surgical site. Furthermore, it is crucial for the protection of the patient against micro-organisms.
The surgical team may have transferred them to the patient when they are not wearing gloves or when they fail to change them.
Let us elaborate on this below. Scroll down!
How Often Should Your Surgical Gloves Be Changed When Coming In Contact With A Patient?
Before anything else, it would be best that you know and understand what is a surgical glove first.
Basically, it is a type of glove that is typically made of a variety of materials, including vinyl, nitrile, and latex.
These gloves are designed for the protection of the surgical team and the patient against all types of infections, such as skin infections.
Among those three medical glove options, latex gloves are commonly used in surgery. But nitrile gloves are more recommended for those with allergies.
That is because they are less likely to cause allergic reactions as compared to latex gloves. This information is based on nitrile vs. latex vs. vinyl gloves.
If you want a more affordable option, vinyl gloves are recommended since they are the least expensive type of surgical gloves.
Now, going back to the question of how often surgical gloves should be changed, it needs to be done between patients.
Meaning to say, when you are dealing with a patient, you must be wearing a new pair of gloves.
After each patient, dispose of the used gloves and get another one for another patient.
However, this may not be practiced all the time.
For instance, in an emergency room, some healthcare professionals no longer have time to change their gloves.
If this is the care for you, you still need to find the time to change your glove when the contamination or soiling is already visible.
Always keep in mind that changing gloves between each patient will reduce the risk of infection.
How Often Should Your Surgical Gloves Be Changed During An Operation?
The operating room is an environment where peculiarities are innate. This is also the reason why glove failure can happen.
According to research, surgical gloves may not withstand long and strenuous procedures.
The surgeon often fails to change their surgical gloves during that lengthy procedure.
Furthermore, the kind of surgery or medical tasks performed is another reason for glove failure.
With that, it is highly suggested by a study that the surgical team should change gloves every 90 to 150 minutes.
This way, the barrier offered by the gloves will not deteriorate.
It is also a good thing that there are documented cases where healthcare professionals practice changing gloves.
Based on those articles, nurses from the operating room change their gloves about five to ten times per hour on average.
But since surgical gloves are associated with inherent risk, people have started to double their gloves.
Double gloving has become a practice standard for surgeries to reduce the risk of infection.
It has a lot of advantages when this practice is being applied compared to when only a pair of gloves are used by the surgical team.
When you opt for this practice, try wearing two pairs of gloves in different colors.
The ideal would lighter colored gloves for the outer layer and darker-colored gloves for the inner layer.
This idea is helpful in increasing gloves perforation awareness. The same is true with changing surgical gloves.
Now, when any of your gloves are punctured, the best practice is to remove both.
You need to change both layers when you detect any perforation in the gloves.
That is because even though only the outer gloves have a perforation, it can also mean that inside will be compromised.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Although we have touched on a lot of things about how often surgical gloves should be changed, there are still more of them that you should know.
Read below as we will answer the most commonly asked questions about medical gloves.
#1. Is there any risk associated with the failure to change surgical gloves often?
As mentioned earlier, surgical gloves cannot withstand some procedures.
With this, the patient and the healthcare personnel may face some risk when gloves are not changed.
There will be a higher risk of infections when the protective barrier fails to prevent it from happening.
#2. How can you tell if you already need to change surgical gloves?
As recommended by the CDC, you need to change gloves when they are damaged or torn.
You also have to do the same when the surgical gloves are already contaminated with bodily fluids such as blood.
#3. How to prevent infection?
When you are about to change your gloves, remove them carefully. Make sure that you will not contaminate your hands.
You can follow the proper way how to safely remove disposable gloves.
Before wearing your surgical gloves, wash your hands thoroughly using soap and water. Do the same once you remove your gloves.
Also, remember to store your surgical gloves in a clean and dry place.
The Food and Drug Administration or FDA requires health professionals to label their gloves. Indicate the expiration date, size, and material.
Also, ensure that the surgical gloves are sterile when used in operation.
Furthermore, it is recommended that you inspect your surgical gloves routinely and change them every 90 to 150 minutes.
Another standard practice that you can apply is double gloving. But make sure to change both of your gloves when there is a puncture in any of the gloves.
Doing all of this will reduce infections not only for the patient but for the healthcare professionals as well.
#4. Can you reuse your gloves?
The regulatory agencies discourage washing and reusing surgical gloves. That is because this can allow the transfer of pathogens.
Take note that a medical glove is intended for single use only. As such, any practice of reprocessing or decontaminating gloves must be avoided.
However, this practice has been normalized in some healthcare settings. That is due to the limited supply and low resources of the place.
Until today, no affordable, validated, and standardized procedure exists for the safe reprocessing of disposable gloves.
Keep in mind that even though you sterilize the medical gloves after cleaning them, it is not safe to use them.
It can even lead to damage to the gloves. Plus, the gloves will lose their integrity. In other words, there will be a higher risk of tears and holes once reused.
It’s A Wrap!
Now that you know how often surgical gloves should be changed, make it a practice to change gloves often.
Regardless of your operation type, ensure to change gloves often. This is for your safety and, most importantly, the patient’s safety.
As a healthcare professional, it is your task to do things for the safety of the patients.
Take note that simply not changing your gloves may compromise the patient’s health.
So that’s pretty much for today! Hopefully, I was able to provide you with enough information.
Thank you for reading, and be safe!