FDA alert: Powdered gloves pose risk

Health professionals in Ohio wear latex surgical gloves in order to protect both themselves and patients during a variety of procedures and examinations. These staples of safety have long been employed in hospitals and other medical institutions, but the Food and Drug Administration claims that they might pose more risk than previously realized. The FDA is now moving to ban the powdered version of surgical gloves in order to protect a greater number of patients.

Powdered surgical gloves help absorb sweat and tend to make it easier for medical workers to put the gloves on and off, but they also pose a greater risk than non-powdered gloves for a number of reasons.  Patients with latex allergies are particularly at risk, even though latex gloves are not used during any of their procedures. The powder used in surgical gloves can actually disperse latex allergens through the air, exposing latex-allergic patients to the substance.

Other patients and even health care workers in Ohio are also at risk for injury in the absence of any allergies. The powder from both latex and synthetic gloves can still disperse through the air, making it easy to inhale. If inhaled, it can result in respiratory irritation. Powder particles can also easily contaminate wounds and surgical openings, potentially compromising the sterilization or safety of certain procedures.

The FDA did not state what originally brought the powdered latex gloves to its attention, but it did receive advice and comments before proposing the powder glove ban. However, until such a ban is fully put in place, patients are still at risk for harmful side effects when the use of these gloves interferes with their safety. When adverse effects are the result of negligent powdered glove use, victims can stand up for their rights and seek just compensation from the manufacturer and/or other parties in the consumer supply chain.

Source: NBC News, "Food and Drug Administration Proposes Banning Powdered Surgical Gloves", Maggie Fox, March 21, 2016

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