Recently the movie ‘Puncture’ aired about a nurse who accidentally gets stuck by a contaminated needle. The movie is based on true events and the predominant focus is on how the medical establishment ignored a new invention to prevent this type of accident from occurring to keep conventional medical equipment manufacturers in the business.
It is a scary thought that the medical accessories and equipment that health care workers are supplied with may not be the best available. Although the movie had huge shock value, the real story took place many years ago and there are a number of options available, each with benefits for specific or comprehensive health concerns.
The main reason that gloves are used is to prevent cross-contamination between medical professionals and patients. The process works both ways. While it is obvious that a doctor, nurse, or other medical caregivers would not want to get infected by their patient, the patient wouldn’t want to be affected by any bacteria, virus, etc. being carried by the medical carer.
It is important to remember the medical staff deal with a number of different patients presenting with a variety of conditions that could easily be transmitted. The first line of defense is the use of medical gloves.
There are currently three categories of medical gloves that are being used in medical fields:
1. examination gloves,
2. surgical gloves,
3. and chemotherapy gloves.
Examination gloves come in two categories – sterile and non-sterile. Sterile gloves have been decontaminated in accordance with FDA standards. Non-sterile gloves have not been sterilized but provide the same barrier between the patient and medical caregiver as sterile gloves. Any medical caregiver should ensure that they wash their hands thoroughly before using non-sterile gloves to have the same benefits of sterile gloves.
All types of surgical gloves are sterile due to the nature of the functions that they will need to perform. The thickness and elasticity of these medical gloves are generally greater than that of examination gloves and therefore provide better protection.
These gloves provide the highest level of protection available. The gloves are always sterile and are also much thicker than either examination or surgical gloves as they need to be resistant to chemicals used in treatment as well as the usual bacteria, viruses, and other contaminants.
The best medical gloves are therefore largely dependent upon the type of function that they need to serve. The greatest variety of choices are available in examination gloves and these can be purchased at a local pharmacy. Examination gloves are used the most frequently out of the three categories.
There are far less reputable manufacturers of surgical gloves than examination gloves and it is important to ensure that the gloves are FDA approved. While all gloves provide the same function in surgery, some provide better or added benefits such as improved elasticity.
Lastly, chemotherapy gloves provide the largest barrier to cross for both disease and harsh chemicals. These gloves are not suitable for surgery or examination as they largely limit movement and the capacity to function.