Incidence of glove failure during orthopedic operations and the protective effect of double gloves

J Natl Med Assoc. 2003 Dec;95(12):1184-8.


Objective: To determine the usefulness of double gloves in protecting against the exposure of surgical team members' hands to blood.

Methodology: Five-hundred-ninety-six gloves were studied during 71 orthopedic operations using the water-loading test (filling a glove with water and occluding its cuff tightly to identify leaking points).

Results: In all, 73 glove perforations occurred, but only nine resulted in exposure to blood (blood touching the skin). The incidence of glove perforation was 12% (73/596), and overall exposure (blood touching the skin) per operation was 13% (9/71). The latter would have been 87% (62/71) but for the use of double gloves. Sixteen percent of the perforations in double gloves were in the inner gloves, while 84% were in the outer gloves. Exposure of surgeons was reduced from 54% to 10%, first assistants from 27% to 3%, and second assistants from 7% to 0 (p < 0.02, df = 2) by double-gloving. Significantly more perforations occurred during operations on bone, compared with soft tissue operations, p < 0.0001, RR = 4 (95% CL 1.87-8.55). The most common sites of glove perforation were the index finger (47%), thumb, and the palm region: 14% each. More glove perforations occurred in nondominant hands.

Conclusion: Double-gloving offers additional protection to surgeons and assistants by preventing hand exposure to blood intraoperatively.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Equipment Failure
  • Gloves, Surgical*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Infection Control / methods*
  • Infectious Disease Transmission, Patient-to-Professional / prevention & control*
  • Occupational Exposure / prevention & control*
  • Occupational Exposure / statistics & numerical data
  • Orthopedic Procedures*