Guidelines for Health Care for Latex Sensitivity and Allergies
Latex Program - Managing Sensitivity
Healthcare centers must deploy a unified program that promotes the awareness of latex concerns as well as educate on procedures. Latex concerns are very real and a program that deals with latex must become a system-wide initiative.
Enforcing Latex Allergy Programs
Monitoring compliance for latex-free programs created must be enforced or run the risk of being ignored. A committee should be established that has representation of key departments where the latex risks are greatest to patients and staff workers. Hospitals must be willing to take disciplinary action against workers who repeatedly ignore program guidelines set for protecting patients with latex allergies.
It is better to repeatedly ask questions surrounding latex allergies than run the risk of not knowing until too late. All patients should be questioned in their medical history when admitted. This will make it easier for the hospital staff to act accordingly and minimize any mistakes. All patients who report sensitivity to latex will be admitted into a latex safe enviornment where no products with latex will exist including gloves.
Latex sensitivity caused by exam gloves cause the highest risk since these are most widely used by the medical team. Each facility should analyze whether the use of latex gloves is necessary and weigh the cost/benefit of switching house-wide to a synthetic material. Many hospital facilities have been reported of switching to a latex-free enviornment by choosing vinyl and nitrile synthetic gloves in efforts to preemptively protect their patients and staff. If latex gloves must be used, it is recommended to use a powder-free version to minimize exposure to the enviornment.
Master list of Latex Products
Hospitals should maintain a list of all latex products used within a facility. This list should note which products can by substituted by synthetic alternatives and those that can not. This master reference sheet will be invaluable in the event a reported incident occurs and an investigative team is trying to localize any latex problems.
Maintaining a safe enviornment
A safe enviornment is mandatory to ensure proper treatment is available for all patients. It makes no sense to admit a patient with latex allergies to a facility with out a latex-safe enviornment. The risks of doing more harm to the patient would be high. An ideal facility will have no latex products anywhere; however, facilities must have latex-safe enviornments at the bare minimum.