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J Hosp Infect. 2003 Feb;53(2):136-9.

Bacterial contamination of surgical gloves by water droplets spilt after scrubbing.

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Department of Microbiology and Orthopaedic Surgery, University of Bristol, Winford Unit, Avon Orthopaedic Centre, Southmead Hospital, Bristol, UK.


Wound infection and deep sepsis can have disastrous consequences, particularly in orthopaedic surgery. Strict protocols, ultra-clean air, prophylactic antibiotics, and impervious gowns and drapes, have all been shown to diminish wound infection. However it remains a common and significant problem. The water droplets spilt from the surgeons hands after meticulous scrubbing with povidone iodine were cultured. The permeability of the surgical glove packaging to Gram-positive bacteria was also investigated. The water droplets from the surgeon's arms contained environmental and potentially pathogenic bacteria including a micrococcus, a coliform and coagulase-negative staphylococci. The paper packaging for the range of sterile surgical gloves tested was discovered to be permeable to Gram-positive bacteria. In conclusion accidental water droplet contamination of surgical gloves is a potential source of infection. Alternative recommendations are made.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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