Medical Exam Glove

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Female surgeon preparing for the surgical operation, she is wearing medical exam gloves and looking at camera

Medical Exam Gloves are important supplies for your clinic and can help to protect both your staff and your patients from communicable illnesses. However, medical gloves can also be used for a variety of additional purposes outside the healthcare field that have nothing to do with medical procedures.

There are several design options available when purchasing exam gloves:

  • Material (Vinyl vs. Nitrile vs. Latex vs. a hybrid material);
  • Powdered vs. non Powdered;
  • Thickness;
  • Tensile strength.

It is important to appreciate that there is no universally superior choice where these options are concerned. Instead, it is more a matter of matching the strengths of each option to the priorities that apply to your situation. Below, we will consider the tradeoffs inherent in the choice of each one of these features over the others.

Medical Exam Gloves- Applications

Exam gloves are useful to workers in several other applications besides healthcare. These include:

Hospital / Dental Use

Healthcare workers in the dental, hospital and other industries in which there is potential contact with the bodily fluids of a patient will find these gloves useful to avoid the risks of contracting possible infections from their patients. The protection of the patients (especially to those who are immuno-compromised) from infection by their caregivers is also important.

Retirement Homes

Workers responsible for caring for the residents of senior living facilities will also find medical exam gloves important to protecting the residents, many of whom may be immuno compromised.

Cross Contamination Risk

In many healthcare facilities, there is also a potential cross contamination risk, since a single health care worker may have contact with several patients over the space of a few hours.

However, the ability to quickly and easily change medical exam gloves between patients effectively eliminates the risk that bacteria and other pathogens that may have collected on them when treating one patient can then be transferred to another.

Medical exam gloves are also single use, which means that they cannot be reworn once they have been used. This feature also helps to limit the risk of cross contamination.

Laboratory Work

Workers who are responsible for analyzing blood, urine and other samples to look for evidence of viral or bacterial infection will also value the protection they receive from medical exam gloves. In many cases, these workers may be working with especially dangerous pathogens like HIV and the protection afforded by medical exam gloves can help to prevent a simple accident turning into a major crisis.

This is another setting in which the risk of cross contamination is an ever present concern. However, by disposing of the gloves after they have finished working with each specimen, laboratory workers can effectively eliminate the risk that contaminatory agents from one specimen can be transferred to another.

Food Catering

These gloves can be worn by workers in restaurants and other facilities responsible for food preparation. In this setting, they will help protect the food being prepared from possible contamination due to bacteria or pathogens that may be present on the hands of those preparing or serving the food.

Household & Business Cleaning

Workers responsible for janitorial services to households or other facilities can use medical exam gloves to protect themselves from the risk of contamination, especially when cleaning areas like bathrooms and kitchens.

Personal Protection

Medical exam gloves can also be a valuable protective accessory in times when there is a risk of contact with dangerous pathogens outside a hospital, lab or other medical facility.

For example, when dealing with the emergence of a virus such as that responsible for Covid-19 disease, members of the public can use these gloves for personal protection when carrying out chores when they may touch objects that have already been handled by (many) others.

Examples of these situations include using the grocery carts in a supermarket or handling the pumps in a gas station.

Choosing Medical Exam Gloves

To help you make your selection in this section, we have included some pointers below:

  • Which material should I choose? – Latex, nitrile & vinyl are the most popular choices. However, they each have strengths and drawbacks of which you should be aware.

Latex gloves offer good barrier protection and are also close fitting and flexible. However, the increasing prevalence of latex allergies has seen a decrease in the popularity of this material in recent years. Instead, latex free alternatives such as nitrile or vinyl gloves are taking the place of natural rubber latex.

Nitrile gloves are made from  a synthetic rubber like material and have become increasingly popular. Nitrile offers almost the same strength and flexibility as latex without the allergic risks.

Vinyl is an economic choice but offers less sensitivity and protection than either latex or nitrile.

A recent feature in the market for medical exam gloves has been the emergence of hybrid gloves that offer the best performance aspects of two materials. For example, hybrid vinyl/nitrile gloves such as the Tuff / HyTuff gloves will offer the feel of nitrile and the durability of vinyl at a relatively economical price.

  • How thick should the gloves be? Gloves that are 3-4 thousandths of an inch thick are adequate for most medical and dental situations. Thicker gloves provide better protection, but at the cost of sensitivity and dexterity.
  • How important is it to choose powdered medical examination gloves? Traditionally, powdered gloves were easier to put on. However, modern designs include a feature known as chlorination that facilitates putting the gloves on without need for powdering.

As a result, there is little or no need for powdered gloves these days and powder free gloves have become increasingly popular.

For additional information on choosing the best medical exam gloves, please refer to our post on this subject.

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