Errors with hospital gloves spread bacteria

(Reuters Health) — Healthcare workers caring for infectious patients sometimes make mistakes when removing personal protective garments, resulting in contamination with antibiotic-resistant bacteria, a small study shows.

Over a six-month period, researchers collected 6,000 samples around ICUs. They also tested the healthcare workers’ hands, gloves and gowns before and after patient interactions. They also watched the “doffing,” or removal process, of gowns and gloves.

They found that more than a third of the healthcare workers acquired a multidrug-resistant organism during a patient encounter, including on hands, clothes, stethoscopes, and in-hospital mobile phones. About 70 per cent of sites had organisms.

Overall, 39 per cent of workers made multiple doffing errors and were more likely to have contaminated clothes after a patient interaction. In particular, hand contamination was 10 times higher when gloves were removed before gowns.

Interventions that reinforce the preferred doffing order could reduce contamination, said lead study author Dr. Koh Okamoto of Rush University Medical Center in Chicago.

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