How To Make Informed Choices On Appropriate Glove Usage To Provide Adequate Protection For Healthcare Workers

How To Make Informed Choices On Appropriate Glove Usage To Provide Adequate Protection For Healthcare Workers

Making informed decisions on appropriate glove choices is always about matching the level of risk involved in the task to be completed to suitable products. 

nurse and patient protection supplies 

Nurses, caregivers, and other healthcare workers typically use examination gloves. The risk of the job should be considered when deciding between latex, vinyl and nitrile exam gloves. Gloves ARE required for procedures where there is a risk of cross-infection between patients and staff and further risk assessment should be carried out.

Latex and nitrile gloves are commonly used when dealing with high-risk situations involving blood, bodily fluids or patients with infectious diseases. Both latex and vinyl gloves can be used for low-risk, general procedures such as a non-invasive physical exam. However due to the prevalence of latex allergies, many health care establishments have now become ‘latex free’, deciding on non-latex high protection alternatives such as nitrile and synthetic gloves.

Surgical gloves are higher quality and designed specifically for the accuracy and sensitivity required by surgeons.

What Are Acceptable Quality Levels (AQL) And Why Are They Important?

It is one of the responsibilities of European standards makers to decide what percentage of defects is permissible in any market. European Standards state that medical examination gloves shall have an acceptable quality level or AQL of 1.5 because they felt that the internationally accepted AQL of 2.5 did not provide sufficient protection for European Healthcare Workers and so set a stricter level of 1.5.

This means that it is acceptable for up to 1.5% of all gloves that are made to contain a hole. Therefore, a lower AQL number means that there is less risk of encountering a defect, and therefore a lower risk of transmitting infection. However, it means that higher levels of inspection are required, leading to increased prices.

When To Wear Sterile Vs. Non-Sterile Gloves

Sterile gloves are used primarily for surgical purposes and must meet stringent standards based on an acceptable quality level of pinholes. Sterile gloves have a lower acceptable quality level (AQL 1.0) compared to non-sterile gloves (AQL1.5) Due to the stricter standards and testing required, sterile gloves are more expensive than non-sterile gloves. Studies show that in non-surgical procedures, there is no link between using non-sterile gloves and increased rates of infection. Therefore, most healthcare workers opt for non-sterile gloves for non-surgical procedures.

When To Wear Sterile Gloves

Procedures which require a sterile field and high-barrier protection, e.g:

  • Lumbar punctures
  • Liver biopsies
  • Clinical care to surgical wounds / drain sites
  • Procedures for neutropenic patients
  • Insertion of urinary catheters
  • Vaginal examination in obstetrics

Sterile Nitrile Examination Gloves are designed for medical procedures, offering a high quality and dependable sterile latex free glove, they are compliant with Class1 Sterile Medical Devices Directive 93/42/EEC (2007/47/EC) and its series of European Standards EN455 parts 1, 2, 3 and 4. They are manufactured in accordance with European PPE Directive 89/686/EEC, standards EN420 and EN374.

When To Wear Non-Sterile ‘High Protection’ Gloves

  • If there is a risk of contact with blood,
  • Procedures involving high-risk of exposure to Blood Borne Viruses and where high barrier protection is needed, e.g:
  • Potential exposure to blood / body fluids e.g. blood spillages, faecal incontinence, blood glucose monitoring, administering enemas / suppositories and rectal examinations
  • Handling cytotoxic material
  • Handling disinfectants
  • Venepuncture / cannulisation
  • Vaginal examination
  • Basic care and specimen collection procedures on patients known or suspected to be high risk of Blood Borne Viruses
  • Non-surgical dentistry / podiatry
  • Handling dirty/used instruments
  • Processing specimens in high protection non sterile gloves i.e. nitrile or synthetic needs to be provided.

Non-Sterile Gloves Which Provide High Levels Of Protection

Nitrile examination gloves provide a high level of protection, are a superior fit with higher durability, a good barrier and are latex free. They have a higher unit cost than other gloves, due to their superior quality, which means they are less cost effective to use for low risk procedures.

Synthetic examination gloves also offer a high level of protection. They are softer and more flexible than standard vinyl and a more comfortable fit. They are a lower cost option than nitrile and can also be used where there is a risk of contact with blood.

When To Wear ‘Low Level Protection Gloves’

If the gloves are required for a low risk procedure not involving blood including tasks where there is a low-risk of contamination, non-invasive clinical care, or environmental cleaning for example:

  • Oral care
  • Emptying catheter drainage bags
  • Emptying urinals / bedpans and suction jars
  • Handling low-risk specimens
  • Clinical cleaning
  • Dressing wounds when contact with blood / body fluids is unlikely e.g. gastrostomy dressings
  • Endotracheal suction
  • Applying creams
  • Touching patients with unknown skin rash / scabies / shingles
  • Making beds / changing clothing of patients in isolation then a suitable quality vinyl is acceptable.

Non-Sterile Gloves Which Provide Lower Levels Of Protection

Medical grade vinyl examination gloves with an AQL 1.5 offer a lower level of protection and also a good fit. However, those who choose vinyl as an acceptable alternative to nitrile are putting staff and patients at risk when dealing with blood, as vinyl tears more easily, and therefore increases the risk of cross contamination. Vinyl is suitable for low level risk procedures in nursing home environments.

Are Gloves Always Necessary?

Gloves are NOT required for procedures where there is minimal risk of cross-infection between patients and staff e.g.

  • Basic care procedures without contact with blood or body fluids
  • Transferring food from food trolleys to patient bedside
  • Making uncontaminated beds/changing or removing patients’ uncontaminated clothing
  • Taking recordings (BP, temperature, pulse)
  • Closed entrotracheal suction

HCSUK work in partnership with the leading suppliers of medical examination gloves to ensure that you have the best range of high quality gloves available for your needs.

All of the gloves are continually tested to maintain quality and are manufactured to BS EN 455 to comply with all Health and Safety requirements.

This allows us to offer you both the best advice and gloves to suit your individual application so that you can provide your staff with the optimum protection against all types of infection.

nurse and patient protection suppliesImage source: Canva

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Customer Testimonials

“We’ve built a strong working relationship with Hcsuk over many years, having used them to source, install and service our medical training equipment. We have always found the team very professional, helpful, and well-organised. We’d like to give a particular shout out to Phil, the technician / engineer who has been the consistent friendly face visiting our business to inspect and test our mobility hoists every 6 months. Thank you for all your support and advice.”

P. B. (Care Manager), Blue Bird Care Ltd

You are part of a great company, if we can help you grow by contracting you out to our sites its good for you, but it’s great for us because your service is fantastic, very efficient, everyone within Hcsuk is super helpful in answering queries and every time we’ve had an issue, Hcsuk has always been there to solve the problem almost immediately, which is fantastic.

Leicestershire County Council

Truly exceptional levels of customer service, the best I have experienced for many years. Very helpful staff made follow up calls to ask how the equipment was performing and supplied extra user instructions to supplement the manufacturers manual. I would not hesitate to order from this company again.

Savills Estate Agents

We would just like to pass on our thanks for all of your help with our orders and would be pleased if you would also pass on our thanks to the manufacturers for being so accommodating in meeting our requirements. We have found everyone very helpful.

Lincs Partnership NHS Foundation Trust

Since I set up the account for Hcsuk over 18 months ago I have found them to be an excellent advocate of our products. They have been willing to learn about the technical and servicing elements to our hoists and the sales staff have really taken on board and proactively promoted our range where possible. I feel that as a company Hcsuk have got the desire and right people in place for growing in this competitive industry. They seem to push themselves to go that little bit further and offer that little bit more to stand out from the rest. May our relationship continue going from strength to strength.

Joerns Healthcare

As a care home manager I have used Hcsuk for my supplies for the last 20 years in two homes. I have always found them to be helpful and reliable. Their products are of the highest standards, they are able to source anything. The delivery service is prompt and regular so I do not have to keep large amounts of stock. They supply extra services such as servicing and repairs which are done efficiently, and training in COSHH. The reps are pleasant and helpful bringing new products to my attention but are never ”pushy”. Aftercare is good, any problems soon sorted. I would recommend them highly and would not think of using anyone else.

Littleover Nursing Home

HPC have supplied Hcsuk (Health Care Services Ltd) for well over a decade now and we would consider them to be a high quality and professional business run in an organised and progressive manor. We do not rank our customers or have a preferred customer status but if we were to introduce such a scheme I can confirm that Hcsuk would easily make such a grade.

HPC Healthline

As a manufacturer we look for key values in a distributor some of these include honesty, reliability, commitment and reputation. Hcsuk carry all of these and many more. With a twenty plus year working relationship we now place Jo and the team at the top of our distributor list. I have no hesitation in recommending Hcsuk to any prospective manufacturer or customer and wish Jo and the team all the best for the future.

Cleenol Group Ltd

It is brilliant that we are able to ring Health Care Services and that you will go the extra mile to get us the stock we need as soon as possible.

Rykneld View Nursing Home

Just to say a huge thankyou to you and your fantastic team, and I mean that from the Heart. I have never before experienced such a person centred company.

Hampton Grange Nursing Home

What I like about working with Health Care Services is the relationship we have built up and the personal service. The homes report that you always deliver on time, the quality is consistently good and the prices competitive. Your team members are always willing to go that extra mile for us and if ever we have an issue there is always someone there to save the day.

Eastgate Care

Thanks to Jo for going over and above to get us our items in time for our special event at Buddleia House – it was very much appreciated. A massive thankyou for your continued assistance as a supplier to ourselves.

Buddleia House

We have always received excellent services from everyone at HCS at our 2 care homes, especially Lee, Jo and Phil. Always professional with a quick response time. Nothing ever seems too much trouble. Recently I had to use them personally for equipment to enable my mothers discharge from hospital. I had a response within the hour for prices and delivery came straight from the manufacturer to speed up delivery. Phil arrived at the same time to put the equipment together for us! I can’t thank them enough for putting our minds at ease and for the continued support from a personal and professional perspective. I’d recommend them to anyone requiring care equipment and its nice to support local businesses. Especially when they do such a good job!!

Orla House

I contacted HCSUK trying to find a hoist that could be operated unaided by the client. I had become very disheartened, no-one was really helpful until I spoke to Donna at HCSUK.

Donna was incredibly understanding, her professionalism raised my spirits again. Everything Donna said she would do she did, including arranging for me to speak to Andrew the salesman who like Donna was incredibly helpful, happy to bring two machines to demonstrate.

I can’t recommend them highly enough. They are good people.

Penelope C

I spoke to Lee Atterbury 2 weeks ago, when I was despairing about the prospect of finding any equipment to help my husband in the bathroom. I had tried all the popular brands, but none were right for his needs.

When I spoke to Lee he understood what I was saying and set about trying to find what we need. He was so patient and understanding and gave me the confidence to explore outside the box.

I spoke to Lee today and was able to tell him that we, hopefully, have found the solution. I am sorry that it was not a product you sell, though you may in the future, but will certainly look first to HCS for other products.

Thank you so much to Lee for first class customer service.

Christine G, Sheffield

VAT Relief Information

Conditions for VAT relief for disabled people

Some of the products which can be purchased from the Hcsuk website are available for an eligible person to purchase without paying VAT on them. HM Revenue and Customs sets out the conditions when equipment for disabled people might be free of VAT and how to claim exemption from paying VAT on these products.

Products a can only be exempt from VAT when all the following conditions are met:

  1. The customer is eligible to purchase supplies at the zero rate
  2. The goods are for the personal or domestic use of the customer
  3. The goods and services are eligible to be supplied at the zero rate

A more detailed explanation of each of these conditions is given below, but you should visit the HM Revenue and Customs Website to fully understand the conditions

The product must be being purchased for someone who is chronically ill or disabled.

A person is ‘chronically sick or disabled’ if he/she is a person:

It does not include a frail elderly person who is otherwise able-bodied or any person who is only temporarily disabled or incapacitated, such as with a broken limb.

‘personal or domestic’ use means that the supply must be made available specifically for the use of an eligible individual.

You don’t have to physically buy the goods in person. If your parent, guardian or wife or husband buys the goods and services for you, then you won’t be charged VAT.

What counts as personal or domestic use?

Personal or domestic use means that the goods or services are supplied for your own private use, rather than for business purposes. Also, the goods or services must be just for your own use – not for use by anyone else, or chronically sick or disabled people in general. However, if you and your partner are both chronically sick or disabled and you buy goods or services for both of you to use, then you won’t have to pay VAT.

Products which are offered for sale on this website which qualify for VAT relief to be claimed for an eligible person.

The products which can be bought without paying VAT are:

Only the products on our site carrying the VAT exemption price (the smaller price marked ex VAT) are eligible to be purchased this way and you must tick the box on the basket page indicating that you wish to claim VAT exemption on the items in your basket that are eligible for VAT relief.

How to claim

On the my basket page of this website a link to the online declaration form is provided if the basket contains a product that qualifies for VAT relief. You must tick the box to state you wish to claim VAT relief on the eligible product and complete in full the reason by which you are ‘chronically sick or disabled’ and name and address of the claimant. If possible the person making the claim should complete this form, but a family member, carer or medical professional may complete the form on the claimants behalf. To submit the claim and receive the VAT relief, click the ‘Submit VAT Relief Claim’ button before proceeding to the checkout.

Please note that all orders submitted with a VAT relief claim form completed are checked before the order is processed.

It is necessary to complete a separate claim form each time a qualifying product is purchased from Hcsuk.


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