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Review article: Biomedical intelligence

Vol. 152 No. 0506 (2022)

Providing care to patients in contact isolation: is the systematic use of gloves still indicated?

  • Cristina Bellini
  • Marcus Eder
  • Laurence Senn
  • Rami Sommerstein
  • Danielle Vuichard-Gysin
  • Yvonne Schmiedel
  • Matthias Schlegel
  • Stephan Harbarth
  • Nicolas Troillet
Cite this as:
Swiss Med Wkly. 2022;152:w30110


This article reviews the available evidence on the effectiveness of gloves in preventing infection during care provided to patients under contact precautions, and analyses the risks and benefits of their systematic use. Although hand hygiene with alcohol-based handrub was shown to be effective in preventing nosocomial infections, many publications put the effectiveness and usefulness of gloves into perspective. Instead, literature and various unpublished experiences point towards reduced hand hygiene compliance and increased risk of spreading pathogens with routine glove use. Therefore, hospitals should emphasise hand hygiene in their healthcare staff and, instead of the routine use of gloves when caring for patients under contact precautions, limit their use to the indications of standard precautions, i.e., mainly for contact with body fluids. Wide and easy access to alcohol-based handrub and continual teaching are essential. If such conditions are met and adherence to hand hygiene is excellent and regularly assessed, the routine use of gloves for patients under contact precautions seems no longer indicated.


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