DOUBLE-GLOVING: Do They Protect You Better?


Healthcare workers are constantly being exposed to microbes and pathogens which may infect them. The human hands are always in contact with other objects and serve as the most common means by which microbes are transmitted[efn_note]Organization WH. WHO guidelines on hand hygiene in health care: first global patient safety challenge clean care is safer care: World Health Organization; 2009.[/efn_note] [efn_note]Mathur P. Hand hygiene: back to the basics of infection control. The Indian journal of medical research. 2011;134(5):611.[/efn_note].

Centuries of human history have always proven that protecting and cleaning the hands always helped in preventing illness. When one comes to think of the best ways to protect the hands, it always comes down to one solution – wearing gloves.

Generally, gloves are used in all sorts of industries to protect the hands of workers. In the healthcare industry, gloves are even more crucial. They prevent cross-contamination between healthcare workers and patients thereby ensuring their safety[efn_note]The Benefits of Wearing Disposable Gloves to Prevent Cross Infection 2020 [Available from:[/efn_note]

But are gloves just enough? Most glove manufacturers advertise their products to be fully impervious. However, this is not fully accurate since no single glove material is resistant to all chemicals and no one glove material will be impervious forever [efn_note]Perkins JL. Chemical protective clothing: I. Selection and use. Applied Industrial Hygiene. 1987;2(6):222-30[/efn_note].

The best they can do is to minimize the risk of infections and contaminations by great amounts. While disposable gloves go through many quality assurance tests during the manufacturing process to limit risks as much as possible, some permeation is possible [efn_note]Double-Gloving: Are There Really Benefits to Wearing Two Gloves? 2017 [Available from:[/efn_note]. Pinholes are common in newly produced gloves and unless Pinhole Leakage Tests are performed on batches of newly manufactured gloves, one cannot ascertain that gloves are entirely impermeable.

There is always the possibility of a tear or an orifice in the glove either before donning or when in use. Glove ripping and tearing are very common in the medical profession and there is no better solution to this problem other than double gloving[efn_note]Landeck L, Gonzalez E, Koch OM. Handling chemotherapy drugs—Do medical gloves really protect? International Journal of Cancer. 2015;137(8):1800-5[/efn_note].

Donning two pairs of sterile gloves or ‘double gloving” is a technique used by healthcare professionals to reduce risks of hand contamination or infections by providing an alternate layer of protection when glove integrity becomes compromised. This practice comes with a whole load of benefits to the healthcare giver. Just as double gloving protects the health worker from exposure to any pathogen the patient might have, it also reduces the risk that a health worker will transmit any kind of bloodborne pathogen to the patient.

Double gloving provides an increased level of protection from chemical contamination as well as microbes. From picking up a sharp instrument that tears through the glove, a blade that slices the glove, or a suture needle that pokes through the glove, we all bear record to the fact that gloves tear or can be punctured, and the presence of a second glove can minimize the risk of exposure to patient blood by as much as 87 percent [efn_note]McNeilly L. Double Gloving: Myth Versus Fact. 2015.[/efn_note]. More often than not, tears in single gloves are not always apparent. According to research[efn_note]Top 5 reasons you should be double-gloving during surgery  [Available from:[/efn_note], most punctures are identified only after surgery, and not at the time they occur.

In effect, double gloving reduces the chances of perforation and if tearing does occur, it makes it easier for the eye to spot. Double gloving is very necessary and should be practiced in all healthcare settings to help protect healthcare workers better. It is really astounding how the smallest puncture in a glove could cause scores of potential and possibly unceasing effects on the healthcare worker.


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