Impact of universal gowning and gloving on health care worker clothing contamination

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Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology


OBJECTIVE: To determine whether gowning and gloving for all patient care reduces contamination of healthcare worker (HCW) clothing, compared to usual practice.

DESIGN: Cross-sectional surveys.

SETTING: Five study sites were recruited from intensive care units (ICUs) randomized to the intervention arm of the Benefits of Universal Gown and Glove (BUGG) study.

PARTICIPANTS: All HCWs performing direct patient care in the study ICUs were eligible to participate.

METHODS: Surveys were performed first during the BUGG intervention study period (July-September 2012) with universal gowning/gloving and again after BUGG study conclusion (October-December 2012), with resumption of usual care. During each phase, HCW clothing was sampled at the beginning and near the end of each shift. Cultures were performed using broth enrichment followed by selective media. Acquisition was defined as having a negative clothing culture for samples taken at the beginning of a shift and positive clothing culture at for samples taken at the end of the shift.

RESULTS: A total of 348 HCWs participated (21-92 per site), including 179 (51%) during the universal gowning/gloving phase. Overall, 51 (15%) HCWs acquired commonly pathogenic bacteria on their clothing: 13 (7.1%) HCWs acquired bacteria during universal gowning/gloving, and 38 (23%) HCWs acquired bacteria during usual care (odds ratio [OR], 0.3; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.2-0.6). Pathogens identified included S. aureus (25 species, including 7 methicillin-resistant S. aureus [MRSA]), Enterococcus spp. (25, including 1 vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus [VRE]), Pseudomonas spp. (4), Acinetobacter spp. (4), and Klebsiella (2).

CONCLUSION: Nearly 25% of HCWs practicing usual care (gowning and gloving only for patients with known resistant bacteria) contaminate their clothing during their shift. This contamination was reduced by 70% by gowning and gloving for all patient interactions.

Medical Subject Headings

Clothing; Cross Infection; Cross-Sectional Studies; Gloves, Protective; Humans; Intensive Care Units; Personnel, Hospital; Protective Clothing; Universal Precautions

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