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Glove demand is at an all-time high, and the current supply is severely constrained due to raw material shortages and manufacturing supply limitations. In fact, global glove demand is estimated at 585 billion, but estimated supply is limited to 370 billion.1 In these extreme cases, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends strategies that break with standard practice and allow for extended use.
With respiratory and flu season approaching, it’s important to understand your facility’s current glove inventory, supply chain and utilization rate, and determine the best glove conservation options for your facility. The CDC has recommended these 4 strategies to reduce and conserve glove use during COVID-19.
While many non-sterile gloves cleared by the FDA do not have an expiration date, some manufacturers do designate a shelf life. In this case, facilities may use these gloves past their designated shelf life. However, expired sterile gloves should not be used for surgical or sterile procedure.
If contact with potentially infectious material such as blood, mucous membranes or contaminated skin is expected, gloves should be worn. However, healthcare providers may consider suspending use of gloves in other situations. The CDC does not recommend double gloves when providing care to suspected or confirmed COVID-19 patients.
Non-sterile gloves should be prioritized when protecting hands from hazardous substances, however, when supply is severely limited, non-healthcare glove alternatives can be used. This includes food service or household gloves made of materials such as polyvinyl chloride, nitrile, and latex.
During a glove supply crisis such as the one we are experiencing during COVID-19, medical gloves can remain on between patients but must be sanitized to prevent transmission of pathogens. Gloves should be cleaned while wearing them at times when normal hand hygiene would be performed.
The CDC also has provided guidance on glove usage in extreme shortages and when to dispose of gloves.
1: Prolonging disposable glove use during supply shortages, Ansell, 2020