Certified nursing assistants frequently fail to change their gloves, leaving nearly half of the surfaces they touch within nursing homes contaminated, a new study shows.

A team of researchers at the University of Iowa College of Nursing followed a sample of 74 nursing home CNAs to determine if they were properly changing their gloves at touch points throughout the facility.

Their findings showed that while the CNAs wore gloves for 80% of the touch points, they did not change their gloves at 66% of the designated glove change points. More than 44% of the surfaces touched by the workers were found to be contaminated afterward.

Those results signified rampant “inappropriate glove use” within the facility, despite available gloves in all public areas, showers, resident rooms and resident bathrooms, the investigators wrote in the American Journal of Infection Control.

“Glove use behavior is as important as hand washing when it comes to infection prevention,” said lead researcher Deborah Patterson Burdsall, Ph.D., RN-BC, CIC. “These findings indicate that glove use behavior should be monitored alongside hand hygiene. The observations should be shared with staff to improve behaviors and reduce the risk of disease transmission.”