Safety

Latex gloves given the boot at Johns Hopkins

OSHA Healthcare Connection, January 22, 2008

Johns Hopkins Medicine in Baltimore has closed the circle on latex gloves. As the first to introduce the use of latex gloves in 1894, it is now the first major medical institution to be latex safe by banning them, according to a Johns Hopkins January 14 announcement.

The natural proteins in latex can cause allergic reactions-ranging from mild skin irritations to serious respiratory problems-in patients and healthcare workers. While 6% of the general population is allergic to latex, that percentage more than doubles in healthcare workers, with higher rates among medical personnel due to longer periods of contact with natural rubber, says Johns Hopkins.

In addition to gloves, latex is found in many medical devices making total elimination of products with natural rubber difficult, says Johns Hopkins. That is why the medical center prefers the claim latex safe rather than latex free.

A free checklist to assess latex hazards in your facility is available from the Hospital Safety Center. Look for the checklist in the forms library section on the home page.

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