The misuse and overuse of non-sterile gloves: application of an audit tool to define the problem

J Infect Prev. 2015 Jan;16(1):24-31. doi: 10.1177/1757177414558673. Epub 2015 Jan 5.


Background: The use of non-sterile gloves (NSG) has become routine in the delivery of health care, often for procedures for which they are not required; their use may increase the risk of cross contamination and is generally not integrated into hand hygiene audit. This paper describes a small-scale application and validation of an observational audit tool devised to identify inappropriate use of NSG and potential for cross contamination.

Methods: Two observers simultaneously observed the use of NSG during episodes of care in an acute hospital setting. The inter-rater reliability (IRR) of the audit tool was measured corrected for chance agreement using Kappa.

Results: A total of 22 episodes of care using NSG were observed. In 68.6% (24/35) of procedures there was no contact with blood/body fluid; in 54.3% (19/35) NSG-use was inappropriate. The IRR was 100% for eight of 12 components of the tool. For hand hygiene before and after NSG removal it was 82% (Kappa = 0.72) and 95% (Kappa = 0.87).

Conclusions: In this small-scale application of a glove-use audit tool we demonstrated over-use and misuse of NSG and potential for cross transmission on gloved hands. The audit tool provides an effective mechanism for integrating glove use into the audit of hand hygiene behaviour.

Keywords: Behaviour; hand hygiene; infection control; standard precautions.