Hand hygiene prior to donning gloves is unnecessary, study finds

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Performing hand hygiene prior to putting on gloves may not be a necessary practice, suggests recently published research in the American Journal of Infection Control.

Investigators conducted a prospective, randomized trial at the University of Maryland Hospital Intensive Care Unit. A group of 115 caregivers was divided in two, with one group using an alcohol-based cleanser before putting on gloves and the other putting gloves on directly.

Testing the fingertips and palms of the gloves showed that “total bacterial colony counts of gloved hands did not differ between the two groups,” the researchers wrote. Most of the bacteria was not harmful, although Staphylococcus aureus was found once in the hand hygiene group and twice in the group that put the gloves on without cleansing.

Hand hygiene prior to gloving takes about 30 seconds to perform, so eliminating this step could save time without increasing the incidence of nosocomial infections, the researchers concluded.

Another recent study came to a different conclusion. After finding a high incidence of Clostridium difficile colonization on caregivers' hands, researchers in France stressed the importance of hand hygiene and noted that gloves alone are not adequate protection.

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