Benefits Of Surgical Gloves As Medical Equipment
When you think about surgical equipment, you might imagine scalpels, masks, or sutures. But do you ever consider the value of surgical gloves? In many cases, surgical gloves serve as the first line of defense against infection for both the medical professionals and the patient. Here’s a look at why latex surgical gloves are so important and how you can make sure that your medical office uses the best gloves out there.
What Do Surgical Gloves Do?
Any sort of surgery, no matter how small, involves the doctor coming into contact with blood and tissue and making direct contact with a part of the patient that is usually protected by skin. Even though surgeons do everything possible to remove potential infection sources through scrubbing and disinfecting before the surgery begins, they need medical gloves to provide an extra layer of protection. Surgical gloves provide a high-quality sterile layer of protection. They are individually packaged to make sure that they remain completely sterile until the moment somebody opens them. Equally importantly, they are skintight. This allows the surgeon to use a full range of motion, gaining more accuracy than normal medical gloves offer.
Where Do Surgeons Get Their Gloves?
To acquire their gloves, a surgical office orders through a proven medical gloves supplier. This supplier needs to have a strong reputation for quality, good business practices, and a guarantee of sterility with each glove it sells. The supplier needs to use the highest quality of materials possible, usually choosing latex, nitrile rubber, or a combination of polyvinyl chloride and neoprene. Those materials provide flexibility and sterility. When any surgical patient suffers an infection, the medical office does a full analysis of what might have caused it. If it turns out that the gloves got damaged during packaging or that their sterility was compromised, this reflects badly on the manufacturer. As such, medical glove suppliers need to make sure that they maintain the expectations of high quality laid upon them.
Why is it Important to Use Surgical Gloves?
Even in a sterile environment like the operating room, skin contact can transmit many different strains of bacteria and disease. Furthermore, blood is a biohazard and the open wounds created during a surgery increase the chance of an infection getting into the patient’s body or transmitting to the surgeon through blood contact. Surgical gloves eliminate any direct contact with blood and skin for both parties. Furthermore, they are durable enough to avoid breaking during the sometimes extreme circumstances found in surgery. Surgical glove products also use ingredients that are mostly non-allergenic. This means that there is only a very small risk of irritation due to contact with the gloves.
How Much do Surgical Gloves Cost?
The price for surgical gloves varies based on the distributor, quantity of gloves needed, and the overall quality of the gloves. Most surgical offices order gloves in boxes of 100, although bulk ordering is possible. The cost of these 100-glove boxes often comes in at less than $10 or less in Canada. This means that a typical surgical office spends less than 10 cents on a single surgical glove. Because most surgical gloves are designed to be disposed of after a single use, offices typically order these 100-glove boxes in bulk, thus allowing them to make sure that their supply never fully runs out before they order more. Powder free gloves often cost slightly more than gloves with powder in them, but the additional cost is usually small enough that surgeons find them to be worth it.
What is the Difference Between Sterile and Non-Sterile Gloves?
Different types of surgical gloves have many differing levels of distinction. One of those distinctions is whether the gloves are sterile or not. Non-sterile surgical gloves have a lower threshold of acceptable quality when compared to their non-sterile counterparts. This means that there is a higher chance of pinpricks or other openings in non-sterile gloves. While the level of quality is still usually high enough to prevent infection, doctors use non-sterile gloves for examinations rather than surgical procedures. Cost-wise, non-sterile gloves cost less than a similar sterile variety. Typically, surgical officers order sterile and non-sterile gloves in different colors to make sure that there is no risk of using a non-sterile pair during a procedure where the risk of infection is higher.
What is the Purpose of Non-Sterile Gloves?
The use of non-sterile gloves in medical offices is usually a cost-saving measure. Sterile surgical gloves require a more thorough sterilization process, have higher production standards, stricter packaging guidelines, and often need to be powder-free. All of these factors drive up the cost of sterile gloves. While the difference between a box of 100 sterile and non-sterile gloves usually boils down to a matter of only a couple of dollars, busy surgical offices can go through thousands of boxes of gloves per year. The use of non-sterile gloves for exams and non-invasive procedures helps minimize supply costs, which in turn reduces the cost of a medical procedure for the patient.
What is the Purpose of Sterile Gloves?
Sterile gloves are designed to make sure that no potential infection sources get transferred from the gloves or the surgeon to the patient. To this end, they are made with materials that prevent the transmission of microorganisms. At the same time, these gloves need to remain skintight and allow a doctor the normal range of movement. Sterile gloves need to have a higher level of resistance to damage than their non-sterile counterparts. Not only are they normally in contact with surfaces that might cause them to tear, but they are also more likely to touch surgical instruments and other surfaces with sharp edges. The quality of sterile gloves has to be extremely high so as to avoid the transmission of microorganisms and to make sure that the gloves remain intact throughout a procedure.
Why Do Some Gloves Have Powder in Them?
Some surgical gloves come with powder on the inside. This powder is usually make using cornstarch or a similar ingredient and is designed to provide lubrication that helps make the gloves easier to put on. Gloves that are easier to put on have a lower chance of ripping during a procedure, as they don’t have as much initial strain put on them. However, cornstarch can impede healing in some patients. As a result, most modern surgical gloves come without lubrication, as the small risk of a tear is insignificant compared to the need for an efficient healing process. Non-sterile gloves, which are less likely to affect the healing process, sometimes still have powder in them to aid in lubrication.
Do Gloves Protect from Germs?
The short answer to this question is yes—surgical gloves do provide protection from germs. However, the protection is not absolute. Doctors have not found any way to rid an operating room of all possible contaminants, but they can always strive to make any medical procedure as safe as possible for everybody involved. Surgical gloves provide one barrier of protection against infection. Just as important, if not more so, is proper handwashing technique. All medical staff need to wash their hands frequently and properly to kill germs. Similarly, somebody going in for a surgical procedure is asked to shower using an antibacterial soap and observe proper handwashing procedures. This is a major step to killing germs, and the surgical gloves used by medical professionals adds an extra barrier of protection on top of that.
How Long are Sterile Gloves Good For?
Most sterile surgical gloves are disposable, meaning that they get thrown away after a single use. In some cases, a surgeon might even go through multiple pairs of gloves during a single procedure. A typical operating room has disposal procedures in place to handle medical waste, including sterile gloves. When a surgeon does change out gloves during a procedure, that doctor usually goes through a handwashing cycle as well to eliminate excess bacteria. Because sterile surgical gloves are made of nitrile, latex, and other materials which degrade over time, they do have a shelf life. Typically, these gloves last for five years in storage before they begin to degrade. That’s why it’s important for a surgical office to label gloves in storage and rotate them properly so that older gloves get used first. Gloves that go past heir expiration date aren’t necessarily useless, but they usually do not meet the quality standard of sterile surgical gloves anymore. From check-ups to surgical procedures, doctors frequently use nitrile and latex gloves for safety whenever they make physical contact with a patient who is vulnerable to infection. The quality of these gloves determines how resistant to germs and bacteria they are and how well they protect both doctor and patient. A good surgical office balances the cost of these gloves with the safety requirements in place and always makes sure to have a consistent stock on hand. All told, surgical gloves remain one of the most important yet underrated pieces of medical equipment in most offices.