When we are in a hospital or a clinic, we will never miss the sight of doctors and nurses wearing gloves. You might be wondering what are the reasons they seem to cannot be apart from gloves. Of course, everything and everyone has their own reasons and so do these healthcare workers. Gloves are very essential in the healthcare industry due to many reasons. One of the best gloves manufacturers is Medrux.com. So, why do healthcare workers always wear gloves every single time we encounter them? The answers are in this post, so you need to be with us until the end to find out the answers.
Back in the 1890s
Why are we time travelling? Well, the first person who is known to be the one who invented and introduced rubber surgical gloves was William Stewart Halsted. That happened in the year 1894. He was the first surgeon in chief of The Johns Hopkins Hospital and he made a remarkable history in the United States. Let’s go back to a few years before that incident took place. What was the reason behind the invention? This is where it gets very interesting. In the year 1889, Caroline Hampton moved from New York to Baltimore to work as a chief surgical nurse at the John Hopkins Hospital. That was how she met her husband, William Halsted who was his boss at that moment. Year by year goes by, and in the winter of 1889, he was shocked by the fact that Hampton wished to quit the job. He was very fond of her and described her as “unusually efficient”.
He later found out the reason why she made such a decision. The reason was her hands. Years before, Halsted obligated everyone who steps into the operation theatre to wash their hands with soap which later would be dipped in a caustic solution of potassium permanganate. It does not stop there, they have to dip their hands in a hot oxalic acid bath and later have to do it again with a mercury-chloride compound. These chemicals ruined her hands and they hurt a lot to the point that she couldn’t take it anymore. They do kill germs but they also kill skin cells. Caroline had to suffer from eczema and rashes.
Halsted later made a suggestion that she dips her hands in collodion which would make her fingers hardened. However, that method did not work because the collodion would crack whenever she moves her fingers. So, that method cannot be used. That’s when they came up with another brilliant solution which is gloves. Halsted later pays some money to get plaster casts that are made of Caroline’s hands. The Goodyear Rubber Company of New York was the one responsible to make two pairs of gloves and was commissioned by Halsted.
So, everyone, that was how gloves were first used in surgical procedures. There is another pioneer that contributes to the history of medical gloves. His name is Joseph Bloodgood who was a surgeon at the same hospital.
What is the Purpose of Medical Gloves?
Now, back to the future. What is the main reason healthcare workers wear gloves almost all the time? Well, not really all the time, but they are often seen with them. In the early 1900s, all surgeons were seen to wear sterile rubber gloves. Why is that? Personal protective equipment (PPE) is used to protect both healthcare workers and patients from transmitting infection or disease. Medical gloves are also a type of PPE. They are obligated to wear PPE whenever they are with the patients, especially in the operation theatre. Other than avoiding infection, it is to protect both nurses and doctors from developing any disease or injuries during the procedure. It is to maintain hygiene and avoid unwanted consequences.
When Should They Use Gloves?
Gloves are used most of the time at the hospital and clinic. Medical gloves are used as precautions. Even when dealing with a healthy patient, doctors and nurses are required to wear gloves even though the patient might look healthy on the outside. In 1985, when the AIDS crisis occurs, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) was introduced. This was the first standard precaution that was introduced to society. Other than that, when handling the equipment, they are obligated to wear gloves too in order to avoid any infection. Have you ever seen a scene from a film or series where doctors will put their hands after scrubbing and washing them? That is to avoid infection and the excess water from staying inside the gloves. They also have special gloves that are used while handling contaminated items.
Is There a Time Where They Do Not Use Gloves?
Of course there is. They are not obligated to use gloves all the time. Imagine eating with a pair of gloves. Your spoon might slip from your finger. There are risks if medical gloves are put on too early or too late. It might contribute to disease transmission or infection. They shouldn’t be worn for too long for the same reason too. Gloves are only essential when they have to meet with patients and handle hazardous items and fluids.
What Will Happen if They Do Not Wear Any?
The main concern would be the risk of infection and contamination. As mentioned before, if worn too early or too late, there would be a potential for bacteria infection and disease transmission. This would endanger both lives and could be more than just them both. The whole room might be contaminated. If you feel threatened or worried by the fact that they aren’t wearing any in the proper situation, you can always ask them the reason and request them to put on the gloves. However, do make sure that the situation is suitable and not during their break time or free time.
So, your questions have been answered. The reasons and history behind this topic is very interesting, isn’t it? You have now acquired many information and knowledge regarding this topic. So now, whenever you see healthcare workers with their gloves on, your curiosity has been answered in this post.