Exploring inappropriate certified nursing assistant glove use in long-term care


      • Inappropriate glove use was frequently observed in this long-term care study.
      • Certified nursing assistants failed to change gloves when indicated 66% of the time.
      • Of the touch points, 44% of the gloved touch points were contaminated.
      • Contaminated gloves spread pathogens.
      • Work needs to be done to improve glove use to reduce cross-contamination and decrease the risk of infections.


      Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs) frequently wear gloves when they care for patients in standard precautions. If CNAs use gloves inappropriately, they may spread pathogens to patients and the environment, potentially leading to health care–associated infections (HAIs).


      Using a descriptive structured observational design, we examined the degree of inappropriate health care personnel glove use in a random sample of 74 CNAs performing toileting and perineal care at 1 long-term care facility.


      During the 74 patient care events, CNAs wore gloves for 80.2% (1,774/2,213) of the touch points, failing to change gloves at 66.4% (225/339) of glove change points. CNAs changed gloves a median of 2.0 times per patient care event. A median of 1.0 change occurred at a change point. CNAs failed to change their gloves at a glove change point a median of 2.5 times per patient care event. Most (61/74; 82.4%) patient care events had >1 contaminated touch point. Over 44% (782/1,774) of the gloved touch points were defined as contaminated for a median of 8.0 contaminated glove touch points per patient care event. All contaminated touches were with gloved hands (P < .001).


      Inappropriate glove use was frequently observed in this study. Contaminated gloves may be a significant cause of cross-contamination of pathogens in health care environments. Future research studies should evaluate strategies to improve glove use to reduce HAIs.

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