Study: Failure of Nursing Home Workers to Change Gloves Increases Infection Risks

By on 11:57 AM

A new study shows that when workers in nursing homes fail to change gloves appropriately, harmful pathogens can easily be spread to patients, potentially leading to healthcare-associated infections (HAIs).

The study, titled "Exploring inappropriate certified nursing assistant glove use in long-term care," is published in the September issue of the American Journal of Infection Control, the journal of the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC).

A researcher examined the degree of inappropriate glove use in a random sample of 74 certified nursing assistants (CNAs) performing toileting and perineal care at a long-term care facility (LTCF). She observed frequent "inappropriate glove use," defined as a failure to change gloves and when surfaces were touched with contaminated gloves.

As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes, 1 to 3 million serious infections occur every year in nursing homes, skilled nursing facilities and assisted living facilities, collectively known as LTCFs. Infections include urinary tract infection, diarrheal diseases, antibiotic-resistant staph infections and many others. As many as 380,000 people die of the infections in LTCFs every year.

"Gloves are an essential component of standard precautions, and proper use of gloves is a critical component of best practices to prevent HAIs," said Linda Greene, RN, MPS, CIC, FAPIC, 2017 APIC president, in a news release. "This is especially important in long-term care, where residents are more vulnerable to infection and stay for extended periods. Facilities must continually educate healthcare providers about the importance of appropriate glove use to prevent infection and monitor adherence to this practice."

Recommendations from the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) on when to use medical gloves and what you should know before using medical gloves include the following:
  • Use medical gloves when your hands may touch someone else's body fluids (e.g., blood, respiratory secretions, vomit, urine, feces), certain hazardous drugs or some potentially contaminated items.
  • Wash your hands before putting on sterile gloves.
  • Make sure your gloves fit properly for you to wear them comfortably during all patient care activities.
  • Be aware that sharp objects can puncture medical gloves.
  • Change your gloves if they rip or tear.
  • After removing gloves, wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water or alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Never reuse medical gloves.
  • Never wash or disinfect medical gloves.
  • Never share medical gloves with other users.
Infection Control Consulting Services (ICCS) is a leading provider of nursing home infection control consulting services and has been providing written infection control programs and services to LTCFs since 2005. If you are in need of a LTCF infection control expert, please contact ICCS today.

Phenelle Segal, RN, CIC, FAPIC

Phenelle Segal, RN, CIC, FAPIC, is the founder and president of Infection Control Consulting Services LLC (ICCS). Phenelle has more than 30 years' experience providing customized comprehensive infection control and prevention services to healthcare facilities nationwide. Her services focus on assisting hospitals, ambulatory surgery centers, dental office and oral surgery practices, doctor's offices, nursing homes and other organizations with implementing and maintaining an infection control program that: complies with The Joint Commission, AAAHC, Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) and other regulatory agencies; respond to situations of noncompliance; and improve the processes for reducing risk.