The Importance of Using Properly Sized Exam Gloves

5/14/2012 - Written by the Medical Exam Glove team

The human hands represent the epitome of purposeful and intelligent movement. Being an extension of the body and the dominant means for the acquisition and enactment of certain actions, the hands are the most vulnerable when it comes to exposure to pathogens. This is where exam gloves come in handy. The glove’s design suits its purpose of protection and at the same time maintains the efficiency of the hands when it comes to function. Donning on exam gloves is the single most basic procedure done by health care workers and has become a constant natural routine. Due to the monotonous nature of wearing exam gloves, one aspect of gloving is usually taken for granted which is actually the most important – proper sizing.

Gloves are no good at all when fitted improperly. They still offer protection but it decreases the efficiency of the hands especially in fine motor movements. Being in the healthcare industry where precision is everything, gloves can make or break. Imagine doing a venipuncture without hitting the right blood vessel just because of loose or tight exam gloves. Picture breaking apparatuses and spilling solutions due to lack of a better grip of instruments. How about bringing harm to oneself especially during delicate procedures due to loss of dexterity. These are just some examples that can happen if health care providers use unsuitably sized exam gloves.

In a study by Yoo, (2011), it was shown that inappropriately sized gloves have a high risk of developing disorders of the shoulder muscles. Normally, the hands require the use of the muscles of the forearm and occasionally the arm in doing activities. The muscles of the shoulder and back are rarely involved. However when using incorrectly sized gloves, the muscle groups in the arm and forearm are put out of action which leads to the compensation of the shoulder muscles to produce the movement. If done repetitively, health care workers who are using improperly fitted exam gloves run the risk of having shoulder pain which can lead to a disorder called myofascial pain syndrome. Another scenario is during situations that require force and exertion. This can ultimately progress to an illness called cumulative trauma disorder. Myofascial pain syndrome and cumulative trauma disorder are debilitating diseases which can translate to unnecessary absences from work or worse - termination.

With all this in mind, health care workers should be more vigilant in the proper way of gloving. Donning on exam gloves should not be regarded as a mundane routine. Although it is one of the most basic methods which can be done by anyone, it should not be taken casually. In fact, the essence of its creation puts a primary importance to its proper usage. In light of this, the correct use of exam gloves with the appropriate size should be advocated in all health care facilities and institutions. Gloves primarily protect but should not beat the rationale behind its design.


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