Have gloves and gowns had their day? An Australian and New Zealand practice and attitudes survey about contact precautions for MRSA and VRE colonisation

Infect Dis Health. 2023 Aug;28(3):221-225. doi: 10.1016/j.idh.2023.03.006. Epub 2023 Apr 15.


Background: 'Contact precautions,' are recommended for hospitalised patients with known methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and vancomycin-resistant Enterococci (VRE) colonisation. Despite increasing observational evidence suggesting that gowns and gloves are of no added benefit over hand hygiene and environmental cleaning, guidelines continue to recommend them.

Methods: A cross-sectional online survey of infection prevention professionals, infectious diseases physicians and microbiologists in Australian and New Zealand hospitals was conducted. The purpose was to explore variations in current approaches to known MRSA and VRE colonisation, and determine clinical equipoise for a proposed randomised control trial (RCT) to withdraw the use of gowns and gloves in this setting.

Results: 226 responses from 122 hospitals across all Australian jurisdiction and multiple regions of New Zealand were received. While most hospitals implement contact precautions for MRSA (86%) and VRE (92%), variations based on MRSA and VRE subtypes are common. There was strong interest in removing glove and gown use for MRSA (72% and 73%, respectively) and VRE (70% and 68%, respectively). 62% of surveyed hospitals expressed interest in participating in a proposed cluster RCT comparing discontinuation of gown and glove use as part of contact precautions for MRSA and VRE, with their ongoing use.

Conclusion: The mandated use of PPE in the context of MRSA and VRE colonisation warrants further examination. An RCT is needed to definitively address this issue and to promote a widespread change in practice, if warranted.

Keywords: Contact precautions; Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus; Multi-resistant organisms; Personal protective equipment; Vancomycin-resistant Enterococci.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Australia
  • Cross Infection* / prevention & control
  • Gloves, Protective
  • Humans
  • Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus*
  • New Zealand
  • Staphylococcal Infections* / prevention & control
  • Vancomycin-Resistant Enterococci*