Conversion to low-protein, powder-free surgical gloves: is it worth the cost?

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AAOHN journal : official journal of the American Association of Occupational Health Nurses





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This study was conducted to determine changes in overall costs associated with conversion to powder-free gloves including cost of workers' compensation cases for natural rubber latex (NRL)-related symptoms and health care workers' glove satisfaction. The study, a 2-year, longitudinal design with retrospective and prospective aspects, was developed to determine health care worker use of powder-free, low-protein NRL gloves, sensitization, cost, and glove satisfaction. Informed consent was obtained from 103 health care workers. Prior to glove conversion, nearly one-half (44%, 36 of 82) of the operating room staff reported symptoms related to NRL exposure. At the end of the 14-month data collection period, only 27% (22 of 82, McNemar test = .007) reported symptoms related to NRL exposure. Additionally, a cost savings of 10,000 dollars per year for gloves was evident with reports of increased user satisfaction. This study demonstrated that conversion to the use of powder-free, low-protein NRL gloves not only reduces health care worker NRL symptoms, but also positively affects the costs of glove purchases and workers' compensation.