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The use of gloves as an element of personal protective equipment (PPE) has become an everyday part of clinical practice for healthcare workers. Glove use can be ritualistic rather than evidence based practice and healthcare workers must wear them appropriately to prevent cross infection. Hands cannot be considered to be clean because gloves have been worn and should be decontaminated following the removal of gloves.


The purpose of wearing gloves

The wearing of gloves has two main purposes:

  • to protect hands from contamination with organic matter such as blood and body fluids, micro-organisms and chemicals
  • to reduce the risk of transmission of micro-organisms to both patients and staff


When gloves must be worn

Gloves must be worn for:

  • all invasive procedures
  • contact with sterile sites and non-intact skin or mucous membranes
  • all activities that have been assessed as carrying a risk of exposure to blood or body fluids
  • when handling sharp or contaminated instruments/equipment (devices)
  • when handling chemicals and certain drugs

Gloves are not necessary for activities such as bedmaking, assistance with mobility, feeding a patient, taking/recording the patient’s vital signs. Hands are less likely to become heavily contaminated during these activities and bacteria that is picked up is easily removed by handwashing or the use of alcohol hand sanitiser as long as there is no visible contamination (Weston 2008).

The incorrect use of gloves can lead to problems including undermining the Trust’s hand hygiene initiatives and the increased risk of skin problems.


Policy Details

Download: PDF version
Compiled by: The Infection Control Team
Ratified by: Clinical Governance Committee
Date Ratified: May 2019
Date Issued: May 2019
Review Date: May 2022
Target Audience: All Trust staff
Contact name: Ann Birler, Nurse Consultant/Deputy Director of Infection Prevention and Control


See also:

  • Hand Hygiene Policy for Healthcare Workers
  • Latex Policy
  • Standard Precautions Policy
  • Aseptic Non-Touch Technique