You’ve “gotta” love the glove if you are at risk to needlestick exposures

By: August 2nd, 2010 Email This Post Print This Post

You’ve “gotta” love the glove if you are at risk to needlestick exposures

Wearing gloves may substantially protect healthcare workers from exposures due to needlesticks and injuries from other sharp objects such as scalpels, reports Winnipeg Free Press, July 31.

A study that will appear in the September issue of Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology, finds that using a single pair of gloves could cut the risk by 66% while double gloving during surgical procedures can reduce the risk by nearly 80%, according to the report.

“Gloving actually reduces the likelihood that a needle will go through your skin and inoculate you with blood,” explains senior author Dr. David Fisman, an infectious diseases epidemiologist and researcher with Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children and the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto.

But why gloving has such an affect seems to be a puzzle, according to fellow researcher and infection control expert Dr. Allison McGeer, who speculates that sticks occurring during ungloved procedures are actually more risky than many healthcare worker believe. The bad decision not to glove for those types of procedures could magnify the unusually large effect that the glove-wearing data presents.

It is known that even the thin layer of glove material can lessen the consequences of a contaminated needlestick by wiping away some of the blood as the needle passes through it reducing the amount of contaminated blood in contact with the worker, according to the study.

There may also be a reporting bias. Workers not using gloves when experiencing a needlestick my have been tempted to report that they normally wear gloves during such a procedures, because it is required by policy. That could skew the results, according to the researchers.

The study also found that the number of unreported injuries could be a factor. Of the healthcare workers interviewed for the study, there were nearly two unreported incidents for every one reported.


By thomas w. mince on August 2nd, 2010 at 6:36 pm


With all due respect, if you’re a phlebotomist, you don’t “gotta love the glove”. For routine draws gloves are fine. With miniscule veins, gloves are the enemy. These studies are similar to every other study ever done, on anything.May cause…can lead to…might indicate..I’m sorry. This is not conclusive science and should not be used to constrain our practices. Trying to protect phlebotomists from sticking themselves is like tryin to protect people from tripping on a crack in the sidewalk. Most people pay attention to where they’re going, and the path they’re on. Some rush and don’t pay attention, and trip and bust they’re noses. You could pass a law that everyone walking on sidewalks must wear helmets, knee pads, elbow pads, and a mouth guard, but that would be silly, would it not? Those who trip, trip. And we just can’t prevent every accident. Thanks, Tom Mince.

By Candi Scott on August 3rd, 2010 at 9:30 am

Where I’m from, if you’re a phlebotomist, you’d BETTER love the glove. They’re called accidents for a reason, and even the most well-prepared phlebotomist in the universe can have one. If there’s something I can do that’s going to give me a little more protection, then I’m using it. I’m good at what I do, but I’m not bullet proof.

Good topic…What type of gloves people are wearing in hospitals while handling bloody instruments has come up in Central Sterilization Dept. Neddle sticks, sharp instruments, drills etc are all potential sticks. You have got to LOVE and TRUST the gloves you wear. The thicker and longer the better for this side of the road. So many departments are effected by this topic. Theres a glove for everyone. Once again great topic.


Per OSHA, you are not supposed to be handling contaminated instruments. Our CS department is required to use baskets to transfer contaminated instruments into and out of the washing systems. Once disinfected, they can be handled by hand.

As one of the comments said Good But Not Bullet Proof. Anyone not willing to wear gloves are not looking out for their patients. If you wre on the other end of the needle would you require the person to wear gloves? I would insist on it. It calledd being smart.

I’m not sure I agree wtih a law that states you “must” glove to protect yourself. I do however think that if the policy is clear, the PPE is available, and the worker chooses not to use it, the worker is declining their rights to worker’s comp coverage for a stick/exposure.

By David LaHoda on August 6th, 2010 at 12:38 pm

That may work for workers comp—I think Missouri has such a policy regarding needlestick exposures—but it does not work for OSHA. OSHA rarely allows a workers non-compliance to get the employer off the hook for a violation, and it it does not accept worker waivers for PPE because it considers that to be an employee-bore cost to safety measures.

See Will OSHA let me off the hook for PPE violations due to non-compliant workers?

By Adria Marallo on September 17th, 2010 at 8:50 am

It surprises me that this discussion prevails as related to phlebotomy. The risks associated with exposure is far too high a price to pay to perform any procedure without gloves. I’ve been in the Clinical Laboratory for almost 30 years now, it continues to amaze me that there is even a question on whether you choose to protect yourself. Put your gloves on! Both hands with all fingers intact- get use to the barrier and your ability to palpate veins is not compromised. You owe it yourself and your patients.

Should you love the glove for giving allergy injections? How about IM injections most of the time patients do not bleed? Please help !!!

By David LaHoda on November 1st, 2010 at 7:14 pm

See this post, Ask the expert—Gloves and flu shots. The advice for flu shosts is the same as other IM injections.


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