Citizens’ group to FDA: Ban latex glove use

By: April 28th, 2011 Email This Post Print This Post

If latex glove makers won’t quit, you must restrict.

That’s a short review of the April 25 letter sent to the FDA from Public Citizen Health Research Group on banning powdered and latex surgeon’s and patient examination gloves.

The advocacy group said that because the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has refused to take action on this and several similar petitions over the last 13 years, “untold numbers of preventable serious injuries have continued to occur to both patients and healthcare workers exposed to these extremely dangerous products,” according to an April 27 HealthLeaders article.

Here is an excerpt from that article:

“In the group’s letter, Public Citizen director Sidney Wolfe, MD and deputy director, and Michael Carome, MD accused the agency of acting “in the interests of cornstarch-powdered and latex glove manufacturers,” who have opposed the ban, rather than “in the interests of public health.” Although they are more expensive, non-latex products are now in use at many healthcare systems including Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, Kaiser Permanente, Legacy Healthcare in the Northwest and Geisinger Medical Center in Pennsylvania Alternatives, the letter says.

Serious problems with the latex products containing cornstarch may occur in both the clinicians who use them as well as their patients. When providers don and remove the gloves, the cornstarch powder can become aerosolized to cause allergic reactions in patients.

The powder also can be deposited in tissue of patients during surgery. When that happens, it can promote wound infections, delay healing, cause granuloma formation or intestinal obstruction, pelvic pain, and infertility secondary to peritoneal adhesions, as well as several other adverse events, Public Citizen says.

For healthcare workers, proteins in the latex can cause allergic reactions, some of which are serious or even life threatening, including contact dermatitis, rhinitis, conjunctivitis and even more serious conditions such as asthma or anaphylactic shock, Wolfe and Carome wrote.

Nancy Foster, Vice President for Quality and Patient Safety Policy for the American Hospital Association, said in an interview Tuesday that “latex gloves and other products are an important part of the current methods we use to protect against transmission of infection.” She adds that there seems to be a growing trend to use non-latex products within the industry, although they are more expensive.”

Where do you stand on this issue? Does the FDA’s failure to ban latex gloves or the use of cornstarch in their manufacturing process “demonstrates astonishingly reckless and inexcusable disregard for the health and safety of patients and healthcare workers?” according Public Citizen Health Research Group. Let us know in the comment section below.


Where is the data? Please show us the evidence. My understanding from glove manufacturers in the past is that non-latex gloves are more prone to integrity failure. This would appear to compromise both patient and health care worker safety, especially in the OR.
Powderless latex gloves seem like the most appropriate choice.

By Drl. Ross on May 3rd, 2011 at 8:04 am

Non-powdered latex gloves need to remain available. Nitrile gloves and other non-latex gloves can become extremely slick and slippery when wet with blood, etc. increasing the risk to the wearer of cuts and needlesticks. The advocacy group needs to provide hard data on damage to patients and health care workers by non-powdered gloves.

Here again we have a problem that might become hazardous to a healthcare worker because of the lack of understanding by the public. I can support a total ban on powdered latex gloves but not on latex gloves that are unpowdered due to the reasons already cited above. Many facilities are now latex safe with the nonpowdered latex gloves allowed in surgeries or procedures that have a significant amount of blood or other body fluids invovled. Does anyone know if the cited facilites are totally latex glove free or if they are still used in a few select instances? It would be interesting to get views from them to help us decide if our opinions are truly correct.

Data is always good. With regards to performing surgery that has significant amount of blood, what does an organization/hospital/surgery center do when the patient has a known latex allergy?

By Latex gloves on October 19th, 2011 at 12:24 am

I like your views that latex gloves are made in a responsible fashion using rubber from FSC certified plantations. The company also pays the rubber tappers a fair trade premium. We’ve been using the gloves for various household duties for about a month now and are very impressed. The original pair has held up well after near daily use for dish washing. The fit is comfortable and the gloves are long enough to cover up the tip of a shirt sleeve. Thanks.
Latex gloves

I agree that a total ban on latex gloves is unnecessary although banning powdered ones makes sense as this is what helps disperse latex particles so efficiently. Healthcare facilities have policies in place to deal with latex allergy issues in both patients and staff. I think if we had exam gloves that were latex free (both nitirle and the third generation vinyl) but allowing latex as a choice for areas where invasive procedures are done (surgery, ED, radiology) due to better fit and tactile sensations, we would have done due dilligence. Also, IN THE HOME, we should be able to use latex as the last writter said because we would not do so if we knew we had a family member at risk. There is a grave understanding in the latex issue as to the problems generated via powdered vs. nonpowdered gloves.


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