Powdered Glove Ban

Posted: Jan 18, 2017
Views: 4415 - Comments: 6

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While I am not excited about transitioning away from gloves that work really well for me in surgery, this shift away from powdered gloves gets my full support. Honestly, I’m surprised it took until 2017 for the FDA to make it official. I can recall as far back as my sophomore year in vet school scrubbing in to assist (read: watch) my first horse colic surgery and listening to the chief surgeon explain why he rinsed his gloves with saline before every belly surgery. This practice was strictly adhered to through my internship and residency and I did my due diligence to spread the news to all of the students and interns I’ve had the privilege to teach over the past 20 years. Ouch, that makes me feel ancient. Anyway, the reason that original chief surgeon gave me was that every single particle that we put in a horse’s abdomen can contribute to adhesion formation. No matter if it is sterile or inert or whatever, particulate matter has the potential to either start or enhance an inflammatory reaction that is clearly part of the adhesion pathway. Surgery is a game of details, so this detail of rinsing much of the sterile powder from our gloves prior to picking up a scalpel blade made sense. It is a logical progression to simply eliminate the powder altogether. Even in our small animal patients where clinically relevant adhesions are less of an issue, inflammation is still an adversary we should use every opportunity to knock back.

blue glove

As the Safety Manager for this practice, the powdered glove ban is a simple step. One of our veterinarians is allergic to powdered gloves, so in a sense we’ve already had the conversation and started the process of changing over. From the perspective of employee safety and long term exposure to the powder used in most gloves, no time like the present to make this hospital safer.

gloves in boxes

Yes, the powderless gloves can be a bugger to pull on if your hands are the least bit damp. Just like anything else where there is a choice of flavors (such as suture material, IV catheters or bandage material), it may take some time to find the “just right” glove. Our first shipment of powderless gloves had a rolled-edge cuff which was uncomfortable and constricting. However, I’m confident our Central Supply wizard will find gloves that are acceptable and our surgery service will adapt to this new wrinkle. It will probably take me longer to break the habit of rinsing my gloves just prior to incision than it will to adapt to the new gloves. Bravo, FDA for getting this one right! Now if we can just avoid another storm of backorders…



Katlyn Ligon's picture

I'm not as happy about the ban as most, I'm actually allergic to most of the exam gloves and the powder keeps them off my hands, while still being able to wear gloves. I do understand why the change has to happen and we are now looking into other options.

Kateelynn DuPape's picture

I am hoping you could help me clear up some conflicting information I am hearing. Despite the ban, I am hearing that the powdered gloves are still ok to use as long as the procedure does not involve making an incision. For example, its still of to use them for central line placement and unblocking a male cat. Is this accurate?

Thanks so much!

Beth Ann Fretz's picture

Hi Kateelynn,

I spoke with our Safety Manager, Dr. Richter, and powdered gloves are completely banned by the FDA. The risk is to both the patient AND the person donning the gloves (and anyone in the vicinity). So it does not matter what the procedure may be, if there is a human involved (wearing the gloves) it is a risk that the FDA now feels is unacceptable. Hope this helps!