Personal protective equipment

Health care workers not always taking precautions with powerful disinfectants: study


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Cincinnati – Health care workers do not always follow precautionary measures such as wearing protective gowns and gloves when using high-level disinfectants, according to a recent NIOSH study.

As part of a series that examines data from the 2011 Health and Safety Practices Survey of Healthcare Workers, the study included nearly 5,000 nurses, technicians and dental professionals who used high-level disinfectants such as glutaraldehyde, orthophthaldehyde, peracetic acid and hydrogen peroxide to clean medical devices.

The study yielded the following results:

  • 44 percent of participants did not always wear a water-resistant gown or outer garment.
  • 19 percent said safe-handling procedures were unavailable.
  • 17 percent never received training about safe handling of HLDs.
  • 12 percent had skin contact with HLDs during the previous week.
  • Those reporting skin contact were 4 times more likely to not always wear protective gloves.
  • 9 percent did not always wear protective gloves.
  • 5 percent experienced an HLD spill or leak when handling it.
  • The most frequently cited reason for not wearing personal protective equipment was “exposure was minimal.”

The study was published in the February issue of Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology.