We all know that infection control guidelines taught us to wash our hands prior to donning non-sterile gloves and when you remove them, right? Well not so fast! In a recent study published in JAMA Network Open, the outcomes related to washing versus not washing were the same. In fact, their conclusion was that a direct-gloving strategy without prior hand hygiene should be considered by health care facilities.
Hand hygiene is the cornerstone of infection prevention. However, washing your hands prior to gloving delays your activity as your hands need to be dry prior to donning gloves. Sure, it is only a matter of seconds, however, if the need to wash hands first has been proven useless maybe it is time to look at it and evaluate our current practices.
That said, although this is great information, we live in a highly regulated world. If a surveyor observes a staff member not washing their hands appropriately, you are likely to receive a citation. The study did not look at handwashing AFTER doffing gloves which would be an interesting study as well. Bottom line, hand hygiene remains our first line of defense in controlling the spread of infection. I would much rather err on the side of caution, wash my hands prior to donning gloves, etc. until further research is done. Go wash your hands! Stay well and stay informed!