Contamination of Unused, Nonsterile Gloves in the Critical Care Setting: A Comparison of Bacterial Glove Contamination in Medical, Surgical and Burn Intensive Care Units
AbstractObjective: To assess the rate and burden of bacterial contamination on unused, nonsterile gloves found in glove boxes in three different specialty intensive care units (ICUs).
Design: Descriptive, cross-sectional study
Setting: A burn, trauma/surgical, and medical ICU in a 412-bed tertiary care hospital.
Subjects: Convenience sample of 90 non-sterile vinyl exam glove pairs
Methods: Thirty occupied rooms in each ICU were utilized for collection of glove pair samples. Gloves from opened glove boxes placed in wall-mounted racks for use by healthcare staff were donned by one investigator in a routine, aseptic fashion. The surfaces of both gloves were swabbed, plated onto a contact agar plate and incubated for 48 hours. Resulting colony forming units (CFUs) were counted and recorded for each glove pair sample.
Results: Bacterial contaminants were cultured from 73 of 90 (81.1%) glove pairs sampled across all ICUs. Contamination rates of glove samples from the BICU, SICU and MICU were 66.7%, 86.7% and 90.0% respectively. The differences in contamination rate among units was statistically significant (p=0.044). The average contamination burden was 5.83 CFU per glove pair and was not significantly different among units.
Conclusions: Despite differences in infection control practices and the composition of pathologies managed in each ICU, the average bioburden of gloves left exposed in the environment was not significantly different. Further research is needed to assess for an association of glove bioburden with nosocomial infection rates and the effects of different infection control practices on the reduction of glove bioburdens.