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Operating Room Nurses are Concerned about Complications Associated with Powdered Gloves

Yet only one-third of their facilities are powder-free

ANAHEIM, Calif., April 7, 2008 /PRNewswire/ -- Seven out of 10 operating room nurses attending this year's Association of PeriOperative Registered Nurses (AORN) 55th Congress in Anaheim, Calif. who responded to an industry survey reported being "very concerned" about the surgical complications related to glove powder. However, only 30 percent reported their facility was powder-free. Powdered gloves have been implicated as the largest single contributor to latex aeroallergen levels in healthcare facilities.(i)

In a random sample of 543 nurses at the AORN Congress, Molnlycke Health Care, manufacturer of the Biogel(R) glove line, asked attendees about glove powder and latex safety issues, both major concerns in the operating room today.

According to the survey, 94 percent of respondents have a "moderate" to "high" level of awareness of the potential surgical complications related to the use of powdered surgical gloves, but only 57 percent correctly identified all four of the leading complications: latex allergic reactions, latex sensitization, post-operative surgical site infection and adhesion formation.

"Many of us assume that the complications associated with powdered glove use are well understood by perioperative practitioners," said Carolyn Twomey, R.N., global vice president of clinical and clinical research, Molnlycke Health Care. "Clearly, there is a need for education about the full range of complications related to powder. Although very serious, latex allergies and occupational asthma are not the only issues. Patient complications from powder left behind in surgical wounds can include adhesions, delays in wound healing, pyrogenic reactions and the fostering of infection. By understanding all of these complications, practitioners can be proactive in reducing patient risk and improving patient outcomes."

Powdered latex gloves should not be used for surgical procedures because the cornstarch powder contributes to delayed wound healing(ii) and postoperative complications including adhesions,(iii) granulomas,(iv) increased scar formation(v) and increased risk of infection.(vi) All of these contribute to longer hospital patient stays and increased healthcare costs. Cornstarch powder on surgical and exam gloves promotes the transfer of allergenic latex proteins.(vii) For healthcare workers, the risks of powder-related complications including respiratory symptoms and asthma, as well as hand dermatitis, all lead to latex sensitization, are major concerns. (vii) These all contribute to lost healthcare employee productivity and disability, for which the risk can be significantly decreased with the use of powder-free gloves.(ix, x)

Nearly a dozen professional healthcare organizations, including AORN, support the use of powder-free, low-protein surgical gloves, and recommend the use of latex-free glove alternatives for situations in which a latex-free solution is necessary, such as in the care of a latex-sensitive patient or for a latex-sensitive practitioner. Hospitals that have chosen powder-free, low-protein latex gloves have demonstrated reductions in latex allergies and occupational asthma. In fact, many have reported the return to work of latex-sensitive practitioners, who previously could not work.(xi)

Powder in latex gloves and latex allergies in general have continued to bring the issue of "latex-safe" vs. "latex-free" healthcare facilities to the forefront. In February, The Wall Street Journal reported on facilities aiming to become latex-free.(xii) Eliminating all latex from a healthcare environment presents unique challenges due to the number of medical products that contain latex.(xiii) It is recommended that facilities consider all latex options and the needs of the staff before making a latex-safe or latex-free decision.

"Finding an industry partner who is interested in helping your healthcare organization fully understand the facts supported by evidence-based literature is essential to making a wise decision for the long-term," said Twomey.

Molnlycke Health Care provides healthcare facilities with a unique team approach that results in tailored, well-rounded glove solutions. This includes a full-line of powder-free, low-protein latex and non-latex glove styles to address all specialty needs. As reported in The Cochrane Review, the Biogel patented, puncture indication glove system (in either latex or non-latex) provides protection and an alert system for barrier breach which increases practitioner safety.(xiv)

Biogel gloves are manufactured by the only major surgical glove company with an exclusively powder-free surgical glove line, and are made from high-tech material that is bonded with a thin inner coating of acrylate terpolymer. The smooth inner surface allows Biogel gloves to be easily donned with damp or dry hands without the need for a powder lubricant.

About Molnlycke Health Care US, LLC

Molnlycke Health Care U.S., LLC, consists of two divisions -- Surgical and Wound Care. Focusing on prevention of surgically-related infections for both patients and healthcare workers, the Surgical Division (formerly Regent Medical Americas, LLC) encompasses the world's leading manufacturer and supplier of powder-free surgical gloves (Biogel(R) surgical gloves); the number one supplier (by value) of skin cleanser (Hibiclens(R) and Hibistat(R) antiseptics); and BARRIER(R) protective clothing. A leader in trauma and pain management, the Wound Care Division's market dynamics are driven by an aging population, higher incidence of pressure ulcers and increased home treatment.

i American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) and the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (AAAAI). Joint Statement Concerning the Use of Powdered and Non-powdered Natural Rubber Latex Gloves, July 21, 1997.

ii Renz H, Gemsa D. Effects of Powder on Infection Risks and Associated Mechanisms. European Journal of Surgery, 1997; 579:35-38.

iii Holmdahl L. Mechanisms of Adhesions Development and Effects on Wound Healing. European Journal of Surgery, 1997; 579:7-9.

iv Holmdahl L. Mechanisms of Adhesions Development and Effects on Wound Healing. European Journal of Surgery, 1997; 579:7-9.

v Duron JJ, Ellian N, Olivier O. Post-operative Peritoneal Adhesions and Foreign Bodies. European Journal of Surgery, 1997; 579:15-16.

vi Green M. Powder Contamination of Extradural Catheters and Implications for Infection Risk. European Journal of Surgery, 1997; 579:39-40.

vii Beezhold D, Beck WC. Surgical Glove Powders Bind Latex Antigens. Archives of Surgery, 1992; 127:1354-1357.

viii Brehler R, Kolling R, Webb M, Wastell, C. Glove Powder: A Risk Factor for the Development of Latex Allergy. European Journal of Surgery, 1997; 579:23-25.

ix Cameron M. Cost Implications of Allergy and Recent Canadian Research Findings. European Journal of Surgery, 1997; 579:47-48.

x Taylor M. Cost of Latex Device-Related Occupational Illness, Workman's Compensation and Legal Issues. European Journal of Surgery. 1997; 579; 49-51.

xi Sussman G, Beezhold, D. Allergy to Latex Rubber. Annals of Internal Medicine, 1995; 122,1; 43-46.

xii Landro L. The Hidden Hazard: Hospitals Target Lurking Latex. The Informed Patient. The Wall Street Journal, February 20, 2008; D1.

xiii Association of PeriOperative Nurses (AORN). Latex Guidelines, Standards, Recommended Practices, and Guidelines, 2007;199-214.

xiv Tanner J, Parkinson H. Double Gloving to Reduce Surgical Cross-Infection. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2002, Issue 3.

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