Are gloves required when caring for patients with VRE?

Mary-Louise McLaws 1

University of New south Wales, SPHCM Samuels Building Level 3, UNSW Australia, Sydney, NSW 2052


Non-sterile glove use is ubiquitous and use ranges from the legitimate – the protection of healthcare workers from a exposure to bloodborne virus associated with a sharps injury – to the non evidential emotionally driven practices – changing bed linen. How did we end up with non-sterile gloves being the norm for contact precautions? It started long before the Centers for Diseases Control USA introduced non sterile gloves use in its universal precautions for the exposure to blood and body fluids but latex allergies reduced the practice – for a while. With the introduction of universal precautions basic infection control practices such as hand hygiene reached an all time low in just a few short years. Standard precautions were replaced with transmission based precautions that covered contact, airborne and droplet precautions. But contact precautions still included the use of non-sterile gloves when caring for patients with alert organisms including vancomycin enterococci (VRE). Seto Wing Hong removed non-sterile gloves from his ward – was he right? I will provide a brief debate examining both the pros and cons of non-sterile gloves for contact precautions for patients with VRE.

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