Preventing Bacteria Transfer During Surgery By Changing Gloves
Two researchers, Buvana Reddy, MD of HealthPartners Institute in Saint Paul, Minnesota, and Jonathan Scrafford, MD of the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, have reported promising findings from a small, randomized trial. The study found that glove changes prior to abdominal closure during C-sections were helpful in preventing bacteria transfer during surgery.
Surgical gloves can be a means for transferring bacteria during surgery; this new data shows a 12.9 percent infection rate in the control group compared to a 5.9 percent infection rate in the experimental group, an improvement that means better outcomes for patients and hospitals. The study’s authors encourage other healthcare practitioners to replicate the study in their own institutions, especially since the cost of conducting the study is so low: the price of one extra pair of surgical gloves per surgery.
Another option, rather than changing gloves during surgery, is to use a double-glove method. Surgical gloves have been known to fail due to rips, punctures, or tears during lengthy or strenuous surgical procedures. Often, this goes unnoticed and creates risk for the patient and the operating team. By double-gloving, the surgical team is protected, and the outer pair can be quickly and easily removed at the appropriate stage of surgery.
In a MedPage Today article, Eva Pressman, MD of the University of Rochester Medical Center in Rochester, NY was quoted as saying that changing intrasurgical gloves, “is not a widely used practice,” but that it “does seem like an easy, relatively inexpensive way to decrease wound complications.” Furthermore, when MedPage Today asked why changing to fresh, clean gloves during abdominal closure was not protocol, she answered that “the only reason is old habit.”
Healthcare facilities must be extremely focused on infection prevention. The Affordable Care Act reduces or withholds reimbursements for many treatments related to Healthcare Acquired Infections (HAIs). In addition, HAIs can ruin the reputation of an otherwise respectable healthcare institution.
The use of the double-glove method or of glove-changing at critical points in a procedure is a proven and inexpensive way to help to minimize surgical wound infection, and can easily be implemented in any healthcare setting today.