Medical Equipment Blog

Human Anatomical Models Q & A

Friday, April 29, 2011

Anatomical 7 Part Hip Joint w/ RemovableHow durable are human anatomical models for classrooms and patient consultation or examination rooms?

Good quality human anatomical models are made from resin or plastic, and are designed for use in medical health facilities, research institutes and educational settings. The construction of these models are highly durable and very long lasting, even with regular use. The lightweight nature of these anatomy models mean that they are practical, and easy to store on shelves or counters before being moved to patient or student locations.

Since the material is a plastic or resin, the color of the model remains constant over time and doesn't fade or chip off with time and use. Models that are designed with removable parts may be slightly less durable than fixed models since removal and application of the parts can cause wear over time. This is a very minimal concern for most teaching environments or patient rooms even with a lot of daily use.

What options are available in human anatomical models?

There are a wide range of options available in human anatomy models. Some models include full sized representations of the entire human body while other models are designed to show a particular part or organ. There are options for human anatomical models to also show progressive diseases and conditions of different organs and joints in the body. These types of models are often very helpful in patient consultations and discussions. They are also a good teaching tool in upper level human anatomy, pre-med or medical classes.
The level of detail and information provided on the human anatomical model is also an option to consider. Highly detailed models for classroom work and research are often the best option. For work with patient the less complicated basic models are practical and straightforward to discuss any related health issue. Look for models that provide information cards that can be used in conjunction with the model. This additional information piece is good for both patient and classroom use.

4-Piece Colon Model w/ PathologiesAre there any unique features that help in using human anatomical models in patient treatment?

Specialized offices and medical care centers may find that different options in human anatomical models may be more effective in meeting their specific needs. These unique types of models may include larger than life models of the smaller organs of the body. Most commonly this is the eye, ear, nose, and throat area. Very complex parts of the body like the brain, sinus, lungs or heart may have different features to help with easy identification of the body parts. Color coding, clear exterior to allow a view into the organ or even removal exterior parts are all helpful.

Looking around at the options available for human anatomical models can help in determining what features are required in different patient care or teaching environments.  Typically basic models are ideal for any setting, with more complex and detailed models with additional features most commonly used in advanced level research and teaching.

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Powder Free Vinyl Gloves Q & A

Monday, April 25, 2011

Are powder free vinyl gloves easy to put on when your hands are slightly damp to wet?
In general, applying any type of examination glove is more difficult when your hands are wet to even slightly damp. The good news is that powder free vinyl gloves with their slightly less elastic tendency are a good option for pulling on even on wet skin. It is still recommended that you dry your hand completely, trapping additional moisture in the glove can result in skin damage over time and may cause irritation if soap or other compounds are trapped with the water inside the glove.

Powder free vinyl gloves are easy to pull on and fit easily over most hand sizes. They do come in a variety of sizes from small to large but, in an emergency, they will stretch and can be worn by most people regardless of the specific size. The best idea is to have a box of each size available, or at least a small and a large, so staff can find a good match for their hand without having a glove that is too tight or too loose for comfort.

What are the biggest advantages to powder free vinyl gloves over other types of medical examination gloves?

Perhaps the single biggest advantage of powder free vinyl gloves over nitrile, latex or neoprene gloves for examination purposes is the low cost of the gloves. They are much more elastic than they used to be and are moderately effective in resisting tears with typical use. Although not recommended for use where punctures or contact with chemicals is possible, they still make a very low cost medical glove for a variety of situations.

The variety of uses for this glove type is also a big plus. They can be used by all staff from janitorial staff through to medical professionals, avoiding the need to have a multitude of glove styles in the general facility. Since they are latex free, also a big advantage, there is no concern with allergic reaction either by contact or through inhalation. The cornstarch powder itself will not cause allergic reactions and since there is no latex it cannot carry the protein that causes the severe reaction seen in powdered latex glove use.

Can powder free vinyl gloves be used when working with laboratory chemicals or chemotherapy drugs?

Vinyl gloves of any variety, either powdered or powder free, should not be used with chemicals or chemotherapy drugs. The polyvinyl chloride or PVC is simply not recommended if chemical resistance is a high priority in the area where the gloves are in use. It is also less effective in puncture resistance, possibly leaving staff without the level of protection they need when working around these potentially hazardous materials. In these applications a latex or neoprene gloves are recommended over the vinyl option. While they may be slightly more costly they do provide the level of protection required.

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Nitrile Exam Gloves Q & A

Friday, April 22, 2011

Why are nitrile gloves becoming increasingly popular over traditional latex gloves for examinations?

As hospitals, doctor's offices, home health care providers and clinics are moving towards working with a greater variety of patient health issues, wearing examination gloves during patient care has become the norm. This includes typical exams as well as emergency treatments, where body fluids are present. In some health facilities, it is a policy and many home health care providers also use this standard of using gloves when working with patients to prevent contamination and spread of contact diseases.

Nitrile exam gloves are becoming more popular for many health care professionals because they don't contain any latex, which is a natural rubber protein. Many people are highly sensitive and allergic to latex, so avoiding products with latex is always recommended when working with patients in any capacity. Nitrile gloves are durable, strong and puncture and tear resistant, superior in some categories to the traditional latex examination glove. 

Are nitrile gloves available with powder and what is the benefit?

As with most types of examination gloves, nitrile exam gloves can be either powdered or powder-free. The powder is a cornstarch that is used to make the gloves easier to put on and take off. Many people prefer the powdered type of nitrile glove since it does make quick work of getting these slightly tighter fitting gloves on and off. Keep in mind that with no latex in the gloves the powder doesn't carry any of the latex to cause respiratory problems and the very serious reactions sometimes seen in individuals with high sensitivity to latex.

What is the correct way to store nitrile gloves?

Nitrile exam gloves do need to be stored correctly in order to the elasticity in the gloves and prevent deterioration of the gloves over time. The recommended storage for nitrile exam gloves is in a cool, dry place away from direct heat sources and moisture. Any exposure to sunlight, heat or a combination of the two will result in a decomposition of the polymer material that makes up the gloves. The result is a glove that will rip and tear with less stress, or a glove that tears when it is put on.
This is an important consideration for home health care providers that may be carrying medical supplies in a vehicle or storing supplies in a car during the summer months. Having the nitrile exam gloves open to direct sunlight and the high temperatures in the vehicle will significantly shorten the life of the gloves, increasing your cost of supplies as they need to be constantly replaced.

Why do nitrile gloves fit so well?

The polymer that makes up nitrile is heat sensitive and contracts upon exposure to a warm object. The contraction isn't huge, but it does provide a snug, comfortable fit to the hand that actually seems to contour the glove. The result is a snugger fit than latex gloves, which may mean that you have to choose one size bigger if you like a slightly more roomy fit.

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Mobile Lead Barrier Q & A

Thursday, April 21, 2011

How mobile are the various models and types of mobile lead barriers in a hospital or medical facility?

By their very name, a mobile lead barrier is designed to be easy to move within any type of medical or research type of facility. They are relatively lightweight, not much over 100 pounds, but they are on a stand that has four wheels. There are two wheels in the front, and two in the back, with the barrier mounted in the middle. This allows the entire mobile lead barrier to be easily pulled or pushed between rooms, similar to a portable blackboard or whiteboard. With the design of the stand holding the mobile lead barrier, the entire structure is extremely balanced and stable for easy movement through even busy, congested hallways of hospital treatment areas. In addition, the wheels each have a simply locking device that can be easily engage or released by pushing up or down on the lever, identical to those found on carts, beds and other mobile furniture items in a hospital setting.

What is the typical size and weight of a mobile lead barrier?

Depending on the actual model and style of mobile lead barrier you select, the weight will vary slightly. However, these barriers are typically between 100 and 120 pounds. The thicker the lead layer, the heavier the unit will be but this is just factions of a millimeter difference, not a large weight amount at all. The sizes can range from up to 75 inches in height, counting the stand, to up to 48 inches in width. There are different combinations of height and width options available to suit your specific requirements and needs.

The thirty inch width offered in most standard sizes of mobile lead barrier or the slightly wider 48 inch option are suitable for protection for the average adult man or woman. For specialized settings that may require wider protection options two mobile lead barriers could be used in conjunction with each other. This is also an option if there is more than one technician in the room or if there are multiple desk or workstation areas in the room with the laser system.

What options are available with different styles of mobile lead barriers?

The biggest option difference between most styles of mobile lead barriers is the amount of window area on the barrier. The window is usually equal to a lead barrier of 0.5mm, satisfactory to meet OSHA and ANSI standards for use in typical medical and medical research applications. The window can be as large as required, including some mobile lead barriers that are completely glass, allowing maximum visibility will still providing the same type of protection for the technician that a half window half solid partition would provide. All models of these shields are very easy to clean and sanitize and typically come with a white, rust resistant, high durability paint.  Smaller window pane areas across the top of the barrier are a good idea if the technician has a table or desk area that should be kept out of view of the patient.

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Radiation Gloves & X-Ray Gloves Q & A

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Are X-ray and radiation gloves available in sterile gloves or only as non-sterile gloves?

There are sterile X-ray and radiation gloves available that provide a high level of protection from scattered radiation exposure. These gloves are often used in very specific procedures such as angiocardiography, heart catheterizations, orthopedic surgery, anesthesiology, and other very specialized areas. The sterile gloves are typically latex and may come in powder or powder free options. In most cases the gloves are lead free and have a synthetic polymer exterior coating that provides grip with even the smallest medical equipment. Since these gloves, both sterile and non-sterile, are heavier than other surgical gloves they are often designed to be curved through the fingers, providing a natural position for the fingers even with long duration wear.

There is also the possibility of having both reusable and disposable lead gloves or X-ray and radiation gloves that are lead free. Depending on the type of use either option can be the right choice for your specific needs.

When are lead gloves used and are they required in all X-ray and radiation use?

Full protection lead gloves are not typically required in most procedures however, when direct exposure to the X-ray or radiation is possible they the most protective choice. Other gloves such as radiation attenuation gloves or radiation reduction or resistant gloves are ideal for scatter radiation as well as direct radiation exposure, depending on the specifications of the glove itself. Full protection lead gloves are usually sold as either the right or left glove while other types of radiation gloves are sold as pairs.

How easy is it to move the hands when wearing X-ray and radiation gloves?

Although a lot of the ease of movement depends on the particular glove style, greater advances in polymers and radiation reduction and resistance has lead to some very lightweight, highly flexible types of gloves. Lead free gloves tend to be much more flexible and light, with most at or under 0.007th of an inch in thickness. They also can be made with textured grips for easy handling of equipment during surgical or X-ray procedures.

Finding the right size of gloves is an important feature. Many of these gloves are designed to be worn over other surgical gloves, a procedure known as double gloving. Not only does this provide additional protection but also comfort and ease of putting on the exterior X-ray and radiation gloves.
Molded rubber lead gloves are the least flexible and tend to be bulky and relatively challenging to work with in handling smaller objects and equipment. These types of gloves are typically used in research and laboratory work rather than specifically in patient care and surgical applications.
Lead mittens are the least flexible of the X-ray and radiation gloves on the market and are typically sold in a standard one size glove. These are longer through the arm than standard lead gloves and are 0.5mm in thickness, providing significant levels of protection.

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Latex Examination Gloves Q & A

What are the specific allergens found in latex examination gloves and what symptoms should I look for?

It is estimated that over 10 billion latex gloves are purchased and used in the United States each year. In addition, there is also an estimate is that approximately two to six percent of all people are allergic to latex. This could include patients, as well as medical professionals. Latex is found in a variety of products, not just latex gloves. For medical staff and patients, it is a big concern if an allergic reaction occurs. Latex itself, which is natural rubber, can be the allergen or the allergy causing factor, but in the case of powdered gloves, the cornstarch used in the powder can hold the latex, causing inhaled types of allergic reactions.

The common symptoms of latex allergies include a rash that occurs after the latex comes in contact with the body. In some cases, the rash is mild, while in other situations it can be very severe and painful. Anaphylaxis can also occur, which can be fatal in extremely sensitive people. Less serious symptoms include irritation of the nasal passages, watery eyes, low blood pressure, and difficulty with respiration.

How careful do I have to be about punctures and tears when wearing latex examination gloves?

Latex examination gloves are considered to be very resistant to punctures with large objects or with flat surfaces. As they fit tightly to the skin the pressure on the skin with even a small to moderate sized object alerts the wearer to the problem before a puncture can occur. Tearing is very uncommon in these types of gloves unless a significant cut or puncture occurs in the gloves. The tensile strength of latex is above 3000 pounds per square inch.

One caution when using latex examination gloves is the risk of puncture by very small or fine sharp points. These very tiny surfaces can cause a puncture that is not detected by the wearer and may pose a risk of contamination and lack of barrier protection for use in high risk work environments. Some of the newer types of gloves are designed to tear easily with even a small puncture, providing immediate options to change out gloves if any type of penetration by even a fine point occurs during a procedure.

How close to real tactile sensation will I have when wearing latex examination gloves?

One of the reasons that latex examination gloves are so popular both in surgical use as well as for standard exam gloves is because they are so fine and allow a high level of tactile sensation. They form completely to the skin's surface and do not remain stiff or hard, resulting in a very thin barrier between the surface object and the skin of the hand. For working with patients this is a perfect combination as you can feel the surfaces, easily grasp objects and move your hand as if you were not wearing a glove, yet you also have protection for yourself as well as the patient.

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Hydrocolloid Dressings Q & A

What is the best use of hydrocolloid dressings?

Hydrocolloid dressings are used in a wide variety of wound treatments, and they are the most common dressings used in hospitals, clinics and emergency rooms. They are also very commonly used in caring for patients in home health care settings because they serve to keep the wound moist, preventing problems between dressing changes that may occur if the patient is not hospitalized and receiving regular medical care on a daily basis.

Hydrocolloid dressings are good for both wet and dry types of wounds, and are ideal for large wounds since they have the ability to adhere to wet areas of skin, unlike other types of dressings that will only stick on dry skin surfaces.

What is a hydrocolloid dressing?

A hydrocolloid dressing includes a variety of different types of dressings that are all designed to absorb exudate from a wound and create a gel within the dressing. This gel, which is formed by the gelling agents in the dressing combined with the moisture from the wound, then creates a protective barrier over the wound surface. Excessive exudate may seep through the dressing or be trapped inside, depending on the specific application used. The dressing can, however, only effectively manage so much exudate and then it will need to be changed in order to provide protection to the wound. Typically, the dressings will not require frequent changes with most remaining in place for three to five days with a low to medium amount of exudate being generated by the wound.

There are many different types of hydrocolloid dressings , with transparent sheet styles of dressings an option for ease of wound management and dressing placement. Other options include pastes and powders that are applied to the wound and then followed by an occlusive dressing or hydrocolloid sheet dressing. 

Do hydrocolloid dressings reduce pain for patients?

In some studies, research has indicated that hydrocolloid dressings reduce pain by soothing and keeping the wound moist, preventing trauma to the wound during dressing change. Often the hydrocolloid dressings are combined with occlusive types of dressing to both provide absorption and moisture retention as well as full protection for the wound site. Depending on the type and size of the wound this can be an effective option for low to medium exudate wounds and minor skin wounds.

What types of wounds are best suited for hydrocolloid dressings?

Hydrocolloid dressings have been used in a wide variety of wounds and skin grafts. They are also recommended for patients that have ulcers and wounds due to complications with diabetes. It is important that necrosis be completely treated before applying hydrocolloid dressings to any type of wound, particularly those caused by diabetes. In addition, hydrocolloid dressings have been used in the treatment of MRSA, again combined with an occlusive dressing. The occlusive dressing provide a barrier to prevent the spread of the MRSA and the hydrocolloid dressing keeps the area moist and healing without the need for multiple dressing changes that increase exposure and increase tissue trauma.

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Silver Wound Dressings Q & A

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Can silver wound dressings be used with all patients and what is the typical result?

Silver wound dressings can be used to with virtually any type of wound including burns, surgical procedures, ulcers, lesions and draining wounds of any type. Often, silver wound dressings are used for chronic types of wounds such as venous ulcers, chronic diabetic skin ulcers or pressure ulcers. Studies have found that silver wound dressings speed up healing to various degrees in each of these particular types of uses. They are also much more effective in limiting the risk of infections in chronic wounds were ongoing wound care is a concern. For home health care providers that may not see a patient daily this is a definite consideration for these chronic types of wounds.

Can a patient have a reaction to a silver wound dressing and is it counterindicated with any combinations of medications?

Silver wound dressings are not problematic when used with other medications since the antibacterial action will not interfere with any other antibiotic or other types of medications the patient may be using. There are some concerns that silver, especially in topical applications, may interfere with the action of some debriding agents by limiting the enzyme activity of these compounds. Occasionally there are patients that will have an allergic reaction to the silver in a silver wound dressing, but this is rare. Typically these are individuals that have another type of metal allergy and it can often be determine by an examination of the skin around any jewelry on the patient or by asking the patient or a family member.

Can some silver wound dressings be reused at any time and for any reason?

Different silver wound dressings may be used on exudating wounds more than once, depending on the specific type of dressing and the protocol used for treatment of the wound. Since the silver is embedded in the dressing and not a surface or topical application in these dressings, reuse with the same level of effectiveness is possible. To reuse the dressing on a draining wound simply remove the dressing and rinse with clean water or a saline solution. The dressing does not need to dry before reapplication but removing the excess water is necessary to allow the dressing to make contact with the surface of the wound and remain in place with the adhesive used.

What is the proper way to remove silver wound dressings?

Generally most silver wound dressings used in hospitals, emergency rooms, clinical settings and for home health care use will be used with other types of cover that holds in moisture. Removing the outer cover dressing is the first step and then simply remove the silver wound dressing as long as it is moist and supple. If the silver wound dressing is dry or seems to be adhering to the wound wet with saline solution and allow to sit to absorb moisture and rehydrate. When this happens the dressing can be easily removed.

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Occlusive Dressings Q & A

Monday, April 18, 2011

What is the major advantage to an occlusive dressing?

The biggest advantage to using occlusive dressing on a wound is that the wound becomes as isolated from the environment as possible. The idea behind blocking or sealing the wound is to prevent any type of contaminant from entering the wound. The entire purpose of the occlusive cover is to stop air, specifically oxygen, bacteria  and possible pathogens from accessing the wound and the healthy periwound tissue. The reason that some wounds need to have air to heal and some need to be kept moist has to do with the type of wound and the size of the wound. Typically larger wounds that will take longer to heal need to be kept moist during the process to prevent drying of the edges of the wound. During this time infection is a huge concern, so occlusive dressings provide the perfect solution.

Occlusive dressings can also be used with antibacterial ointment and other medications to hold the medication to the wound or skin's surface, avoiding loss through contact with other surfaces.

Can occlusive dressings be used with large wounds?

Occlusive dressings can be used with very large wounds. Originally these dressings where commonly used in cases where the lungs had been punctured to prevent the loss of pressure in the chest cavity as respiration occurs. Other major injuries such as stomach wounds or wounds to the lower back are also contained at least initially with occlusive dressings in first aid treatments.

What other types of dressings can be combined with occlusive dressings for wounds with moderate to high exudate?

Since occlusive dressings are non-absorbent they are often combined with hydrogels, hydrocolloid dressings or calcium alginate dressings in low to moderate exudate wounds. The hydrogels, hydrocolloid or calcium alginate helps to trap the fluid in the gel component to continue to keep the wound tissue moist but not allow the exudate to build up and cause the occlusive dressing to slip or slide on the wound.

As mentioned above, occlusive dressings are also indicated when topical medications are used on the skin or on a wound. In these cases the occlusive dressing is designed more to keep the medicated ointment close to the wound, not necessarily to keep air away from the wound. Often in this scenario the occlusive dressing is used for a short period of time, not for the full duration of the treatment of the wound.

Can occlusive dressings be used on dry wounds?

Occlusive dressings can be used on wet or dry wounds depending on the specifics of the wound and the specific reason for the dressing. Since they are largely designed as a barrier, they do need to be checked and monitored to ensure that the wound is healing and the treatment is progressing effectively. Patients should not use occlusive dressing on chronic wounds or deep wounds of any type without the supervision of a doctor, medical professional or a home health care nurse.

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Disposable Nitrile Gloves Q & A

Friday, April 15, 2011

Are disposable nitrile gloves environmentally friendly?
Disposable nitrile gloves are made of various compounds and chemicals, all which are not considered to be natural products. When nitrile gloves are thrown out into landfills, they do not decompose, and will remain intact. They gradually shred with exposure to the elements and sunlight, but they will not break down and disappear completely. When disposable nitrile gloves are incinerated, they produce harmless water and a small amount of carbon dioxide and other chemicals that are generally considered to be environmentally safe. For this reason, incineration of these products is considered the best option for final disposal.

How good are disposable nitrile gloves at providing barrier protection?

Barrier protection from punctures and tears is one of the best features of nitrile gloves. They are considered to be superior to even latex, which just a few years ago was the standard. Although they are slightly more expensive than latex, they are a good option for all medical applications. OSHA, or the Occupational Safety and Health Association, approves the use of nitrile gloves for use with several different types of chemicals, including cytotoxic drugs. Caution must always be used whenever working with any dangerous substances to limit the exposure of the glove to sharp objects that may cause punctures, even if the glove is very durable and puncture resistant.

Is there any chance of having a reaction to nitrile gloves?

Nitrile gloves do not contain any latex, and therefore are considered a good option for those with a latex reaction. However, as with literally any substance or material, there is always the chance that some individual may be highly sensitive to the chemicals used in the curing of nitrile. Sometimes, the symptoms are similar to a latex allergy including redness, rash, burning sensation on the skin, watery eyes, and swelling. People often mistake this to indicate that latex is present in the gloves, when in fact it is an allergy to the curing chemicals, usually carbamates or thiruams or occasionally even the dyes used in the glove. Discontinuing use typically resolves the symptoms. 

Nitrile allergies or reactions are relatively uncommon, other than a slight redness or itching where the gloves contact the skin. Be careful to avoid storing nitrile and latex gloves together if you are allergic to latex, as some of the latex protein may be contaminating the nitrile gloves, leading to allergic reactions.

Is it hard to find the rights size of disposable nitrile gloves?

Nitrile gloves are a tighter fit than latex or other types of gloves, since the nitrile has a higher level of elasticity. Many medical professionals choose a size larger than what they wear in latex gloves when selecting nitrile, but this is really a personal preference. For individuals with extremely large hands an extra large size may be required. Shopping around and trying different brands of disposable nitrile gloves may also be helpful if you find the current brand you are using too snug of a fit even at the largest size.

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Hydrogel Dressings Q & A

How are hydrogel dressings different than other types of wound dressings?

Hydrogel dressings are some of the most versatile types of wound dressings available for wounds with low to moderately low exudate. There is actually a cross linked polymer that forms the gel, allowing for consistent gel production that keeps the wound moist for enhanced healing. With the moisture kept very close to the wound and not allowed to escape through the surface of the dressing, the necrotic tissue that forms is cleaned from the wound without causing any additional risk to the wound healing process. The gel allows even low amounts of exudate to create the gel, ensuring that proper wound healing environments are created quickly when the sheets of hydrogel dressings are applied.

What types of wounds are hydrogel dressings best suited for and which wounds are they contraindicated for?

The ideal type of wound for a hydrogel dressing is a wound that has low to moderate exudate, but shallow or deep wounds could also make a good candidates. Forms of hydrogel dressing can range from sheets that are good for partial and full thickness wounds to wound fillers that are an amorphous dressing that can be applied to a wound of any shape or size. Most hydrogel dressings are non-adhesive, so there is not as much concern about positioning over the wound and the periwound skin.

In general, most types of open surgical wounds, skin trauma, diabetic ulcers, pressure ulcers, abrasions, skin tears, lesions and sloughy wounds are all good options for use with hydrogel dressings. Wounds with high exudate or wounds that are dry are not effectively treated with these types of dressings. Hydrogel dressing can be a very versitile type of dressing if used on the proper type of wounds.

Why do hydrogel dressings help in wound healing?

Research in wound healing has clearly indicated that keeping the wound moist is the most effective way to promote the generation of healthy tissue. Hydrogel dressings create that environment, keeping the exudate moisture close to the wound surface and conforming gently to the wound shape. This gentle contouring of the dressing to the wound combined with the moisture held in place protects, soothes, and enhances the changes for healing and tissue growth.

Another way that hydrogel dressings help in wound healing is that they remove from the wound cleanly when dressings are changed. This means that there is minimum pain or discomfort for the patient but, more importantly, no disruption of the wound tissue. Since the material in the gel doesn't break down or create fibers or debris that might stick to the wound's surface, there is not even a requirement to clean the wound during dressing changes. The leass trauma or stress that the wound experiences, the more effective and rapid the healing process will be.  
Hydrogel dressings are an excellent choice for dressing wounds with necrotic tissue. The high moisture levels help with debridement or removal of the necrotic tissue without the need for cleaning and manual removal of the tissue.

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Transparent Dressings Q & A

Thursday, April 14, 2011

What makes transparent dressings so popular in hospital and clinical settings as well as for home health care uses?
One of the major factors in choosing transparent dressings over other types of occlusive dressings in hospital and home health care settings is that the film of the dressing is considered to be semiocclusive, not fully occlusive. This allows the transparent dressing to both hold the exudate moisture close to the wound tissue and also allow some breathability over the wound area. It is important to keep in mind that although some moisture and some gases will pass through the film it is still designed to be impermeable to bacteria or water from the outside of the film.

The second major factor is that transparent dressings allow the health care professional to check on the wound and position the dressing without having to constantly remove and reposition the dressing. This is a time saver in many situations, especially for larger wounds or irregular shaped wounds that may be difficult to cover with standard dressings.

Are there any areas of the body that are not suitable for transparent dressing use to protect wounds?

Generally, transparent dressings can be used on any flat surface of the body where there is little or infrequent movement of the skin. They are excellent for the arms, legs and chest. They may not be as effective on the highly mobile parts of the body or body parts where a lot of friction occurs with patient movement. The elbows, knees, buttocks and lower back area can be problematic as movement will constantly pull at the adhesive and may cause the dressing to slip or pull off.

Can transparent dressings be used on all types of wounds?
Transparent dressings are good for the vast majority of low to moderate exudate wounds on flat surfaces of the body or areas of the body where there is no friction or high levels of movement. However, transparent dressings are not recommended when the wound is producing high levels of exudate. The exudate will become trapped under the transparent dressing and eventually loosen the adhesive that holds the dressing in place. The greater the amount of exudate produced the faster the adhesive will lose its ability to remain firmly affixed to the skin. In addition, if the skin around the wound begins to macerate due to excessive moisture at the wound surface a hydrocolloid, hydrogel or calcium alginate dressing may need to be added to the transparent dressing to keep fluid levels in check.

Are transparent dressings an option if there is necrotic tissue on the wound?

Like all types of dressings that allow moisture to remain on the wound, transparent dressings can be used with wounds with necrotic tissue. The retention of the moisture from low exudate wounds can actual help with the natural removal of the necrotic tissue during the recovery and healing processes. The semiocclusive property of the transparent dressing can help in lowering the risk of the necrotic tissue spreading.

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Vinyl Exam Gloves Q & A

Can I use vinyl exam gloves when working with patients for home health care services?
Vinyl exam gloves are often the perfect answer for working with patients in a variety of different settings, including when providing home health care services. These gloves are not as tight fitting as latex, neoprene or nitrile, but they are quick and easy to get on and off, and very comfortable to wear for all types of work. They are ideal for low risk type of contact with patients and provide a good, durable barrier between contact with the patient and your skin. They are, however, not a good choice for preventing contact with body fluids and hazardous materials since they are not resistant to punctures and tears and may increase your risk of exposure
Are vinyl gloves a good choice for general doctor's offices and examination rooms?


Care needs to be taken when considering the use of vinyl exam gloves in examination rooms and physician's offices. This is because staff can become used to simply reaching for the vinyl gloves and not selecting a better level of protection when body fluid contact is a concern. However, vinyl gloves can be a handy option for clean up of the room between patients and general use with patients where body fluid is not a concern. One other consideration is the loose fit of the vinyl glove around the wrist area that may cause a greater risk of exposure of the skin to contaminants at this location. 
Vinyl gloves are ideal for general patient examinations, since they allow a great degree of tactile sensation for the wearer. They are not as tight fitting as other glove types and therefore may be more comfortable for some people for longer wear periods.

What other industries use vinyl exam gloves and for what purposes?


Vinyl gloves are use in a wide variety of different professions and industries besides the medical health field. They are commonly used in food preparation and are a good option for avoiding direct contact of the skin with food during preparation. They are also used in janitorial work and are moderately resistant to non-hazardous chemicals and cleaning products. Any type of hazardous product or chemical should be handled using a more durable glove that provides complete protection.

What options do I have when buying vinyl exam gloves?


Vinyl exam gloves can be both powdered and powder free. Since they are not tight fitting and highly snug gloves most people select the powder free variety, but it is largely a personal choice. In addition vinyl gloves can also come with a range of elasticity depending on the individual composition of the glove. The more elastic brands and styles may be more appropriate for medical use while the less elastic types are typically seen in other industries.

Vinyl exam gloves can be clear or colored and they can also contain additional features such as aloe inner coating for ease of removing and putting on the gloves.

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Calcium Alginate Dressings Q & A

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

How common are calcium alginate dressings and how long have they been in use?

Calcium alginate dressings are not as commonly used as many other types of dressings, including hydrocolloid dressings. In general they have been used in hospitals and medical facilities for approximately fifty years, but the overall size and bulkiness of the dressings have changed. The modern calcium alginate dressings are either available in rope forms for packing into deep cavity wounds, or in flat pad types of dressings in various sizes and shapes. There are a huge range of different options in calcium alginate dressings including dressings with medical grade honey that aids in the healing of wounds and burns as well as dressings with silver added, a known wound healing agent. With an occlusive cover, these dressings are starting to come back into popular use in a wide variety of clinical and home health care wound treatments.

Are calcium alginate dressings easily biodegradable and what specifically are they made from?

As the name implies the major component of calcium alginate is seaweed, which is highly absorbent and produces a natural gel like substance when exposed to liquid. The various processes used in the production of calcium alginate dressings prevent the seaweed from flaking off in fibers, and allows the rope or dressing to be easily removed from the wound or wound bed. Unlike other dressing products, calcium alginate will not stick to wound tissue, making it a perfect choice for deep wounds or even surface wounds that need moisture to heal effectively.

As a natural product, calcium alginate dressings are easily biodegradable and completely destroyed by incineration. Other additives to the calcium alginate dressing may produce different compounds during incineration, but they are in extremely small amounts. Since used dressings are disposed of as biohazard material, this is not typically a concern that needs to be addressed by a medical facility, but it may be an issue in a home health care situation. Clear guidelines on the destruction of these materials should be available.

What are the main uses for calcium alginate dressings, and when are they not acceptable to use?

In general, calcium alginate is effective for any wet wound that is producing mild to heavy exudate. The fibrous sheets or pads are a good option for shallow wounds such as ulcers, while deep cavity wounds are best treated using ropes of calcium alginate that form to the contours of the wound bed without causing irritation or problems when the dressing is changed. Any painful wounds or wounds that need constant dressing changes and produce exudate are also ideal candidates for the use of a calcium alginate dressing. Sloughy wounds that require moisture on the surface to prevent damage to the periwound skin are also a good match for this dressing. Since the calcium alginate needs moisture to produce the gel, a dry wound is not a good match for this type of dressing.

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Wound Gel Q & A

What are the benefits of using wound gel?

Wound gel is seen as an essential component in helping healthy tissue develop, as well as allowing the body to naturally debride the wound tissue. Debriding happens when the body is able to slough off the necrotic tissue that forms on the edges or surface of the wound. A dry wound surface cannot debride, resulting in slower healing, possible infections, and increasing chance of scarring and healing difficulties. Wound gel is not designed to act as an antibacterial compound, although some wound gels may have antibacterial or antimicrobial proprieties. Wound gels with silver are commonly used in this manner, but the silver is an antimicrobial factor, not a direct healing agent in these gels.

Are there benefits to using antimicrobial wound gels in some situations?

There are different wound gels that offer a range of antimicrobial or antibacterial agents. Wound gels with these additional compounds can be effective in many types of wound treatment. Typically wound gel contains very small amounts of these compounds, and therefore does not cause any complications with other medications or wound treatments. If the patient or individual has any types of allergic reactions to medications, carefully monitor the wound area and discontinue use if there are any signs of a reaction such as redness, swelling or rashes on the skin at the sight of the wound or the periwound skin.

Do wounds need to be cleaned before applying wound gel?

It is important to avoid using wound gel on wounds that contain debris, material and fibers since these can be sources of contamination, bacteria and pathogens. Rinse the wound with warm water if a saline solution is not available, until the wound is clean and free from any foreign objects. Even when no visible debris is present, rinsing before using wound gel is recommended for most wounds. If clean water or saline solution is not available, wound gel can also be used as a cleaning agent. Apply a generous amount of wound gel to the area, then remove using gauze or allow to drain out of the wound. This is not the recommended use of the product but it is possible in first aid situations where other wound cleaning options are not available.

Can wound gels be used on bleeding wounds?

Wound gels are appropriate for use on low to moderate exudate wounds, but not for high exudate wounds or wounds were bleeding is occurring. This is because the wound gel will wash off with the high moisture levels of liquids produced by the body, and will simply be ineffective. Since wound gel is designed to help keep moisture against the wound, high exudate and bleeding wounds don't need additional hydration, they need dressings that hold the moisture in place and prevent draining. In these situations, a more suitable dressing, one designed to hold moisture, is a better option. Bleeding wounds need to be treated before applying any dressing and require immediate medical attention.

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Exam Gloves Q & A

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

For patient examinations in home health care or medical settings, what is the best option for low cost yet durable exam gloves?

In the big picture of medical supply costs exam gloves for hospital rooms, clinical settings, doctor's offices and home health care providers are typically very low cost regardless of the specific type that you select. For most examination gloves, the newer types such as nitrile and neoprene are the most expensive. Latex gloves, which were once considered the highest priced, typically cost slightly less than the nitrile and neoprene options. Keep in mind that most medical facilities will keep at least one alternative to latex in supply for staff and patients with latex reactions. For some professionals and health care facilities, the slightly higher cost of the non-latex gloves is balanced by the lower incidence of allergic reactions.

Vinyl examination gloves are the lowest cost, but these gloves have limitations over the options listed above. For general use and patient care when sterile gloves are not required, they can be a very good low cost option.

Why are some examination gloves powdered and some gloves powder-free?

Powdered or powder free exam gloves are really a personal choice unless you have allergic reactions. In general the powder, which is often an industrial corn starch, is ideal in keeping the gloves from sticking to each other as well as helping with grip by providing a slightly tacky surface. The powder is also great for adding ease to glove application and removal, since the skin slides smoothly into the glove itself. Non-powdered gloves, or powder free gloves, are recommended for allergies to the powder, which can trigger eye watering, asthma and respiratory problems. Some types of gloves now use other treatments to aid in applying and removing, including chlorine or aloe.

What options are there for avoiding dry skin when using examination gloves on a regular basis?

Wearing examination gloves whenever working with patients is one of the best ways to avoid dry skin problems. This is because gloves minimize the requirement of multiple hand washes per hour or per day, allowing the skin's natural oils to remain in place. If you don't use gloves on a regular basis you are much more likely to encounter dry skin problems. Other gloves that have natural ingredients such as aloe vera are also available that help moisture the skin while the exam gloves are in use.

Are there examination gloves in different sizes for those with very large or small hands?

Different brands and types of examination gloves offer different sizing options. Most companies offer sizes small through large, while other companies offer extra large as well. For people with very small hands, sticking to a latex, vinyl or nitrile glove in a small is often a good choice, since the natural tight fit of these gloves will keep them close to the surface of the hand. Examination gloves come in many types. Some are powdered, while others are powder free. They are also constructed from a variety of materials. Taking some time to find the best type for your facility will be worth your while.

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Burn Gel Q & A

 Are there any possible concerns with using burn gel on a patient with a significant or minor burn?
There are different types of burn gels that are available, some which contain different ingredients to decrease pain, increase the soothing action of the burn gel, or a combination of the two. For most patients, there is no concern with using burn gel directly on either a large, significant burn or a minor burn. In very rare instances a patient may have a reaction to the compounds used in the burn gel, but this typically results in discomfort and irritation of the periwound skin, not any further trauma to the burn. Since burn gels are largely water, they can easily be removed from the burn with a simple warm water rinse. This will alleviate any discomfort for the patient if there is a skin reaction.
 How long should burn gel be used on a burn?

Burn gel can be applied to the burn area as soon as possible and can continue to be used as long as prescribed. The gel acts as a moisture layer over the burn, allowing the tissue to heal and the necrotic tissue to debride or be removed naturally from the surface of the burn. This natural process minimizes scarring while assisting in improving healing and recovery time even with significant burns. Typically most burns will require reapplication of burn gel every 24 to 48 hours to keep adequate moisture on the burn as well as provide pain relief directly to the areas of the burn.

Is there any special storage requirements for burn gel?

Since burn gel has a very high water content, it is important to store the opened and unopened tubes or packages away from extreme temperature areas. This means they sound not be exposed to very high heat sources or freezing temperatures. In hospitals and clinical settings, this is typically not a concern but for home health care professionals with medical kits in their vehicles, it is an important factor. If the burn gel becomes too cold the ice crystals that form can damage the gels ability to stay as a gel when applied to the burn. The polymer structure, or the framework for the gel, simply dissolves, leaving a messy liquid. Product that has been frozen should be disposed of and replaced.  Heat is not as critical of a factor, but will make applying the burn gel more difficult unless the product is sufficiently cooled.
What type of dressing is best to use with burn gel if a cover is required for the wound?

A non-absorbing dressing applied over the burn gel can help keep the gel on the surface of the burn and prevent it from being rubbed of as the patient moves about. If an absorbent dressing such as gauze is used, cover with an occlusive dressing to prevent the loss of moisture, plus add addition gel to accommodate for the absorption into the dressing. If possible, an occlusive dressing without the gauze or absorbent dressing is the best option. 

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Laser Eye Safety Q & A

Monday, April 11, 2011

If an employee wears prescription glasses what options do they have in laser eye safety equipment?

Prescription eye glasses do not provide protection from laser emissions and cannot substitute for laser eye safety glasses or goggles. However, some employees cannot work without both their prescription glasses as well as the laser safety glasses. Wearing dual glasses can be uncomfortable if you don't have the right options to choose from. Larger framed laser safety glasses or laser goggles that are specifically designed to fit over prescription glasses are readily available. These styles are comfortable, lightweight and designed to not push against or ride over the prescription frames, making them comfortable to wear even for long periods of time.

Another option is to consider prescription types of radiation glasses that ensure that the worker only has one pair of glasses on at any given time. These glasses are not costly and can really make the work environment much more comfortable.

How do most research, industrial or medical facilities identify areas where laser eye safety equipment is required?

Stickers, hazard signs, and clear labeling of any areas where radiation or laser systems are in use is required by OSHA and ANSI regulations. In these areas,. it is important to wear laser eye safety glasses or goggles and this rule should be enforced for everyone entering that part of the facility. If it is policy for all employees, managers, visitors and personnel to have on the appropriate laser eye safety glasses whenever entering in these areas it is much less likely that someone will forget or choose to simply ignore the rules and posted policy. Reviewing the signs and warning symbols with new employees and visitors is also a critically important part of helping everyone understand laser eye safety policies.

Why do laser eye safety glasses and goggles have different colored lenses?

The various lens colors on laser eye safety glasses and goggles are designed for use with different types of laser systems. The colors of the lenses are related to the waveband being produced by the laser. Wearing the incorrect type of laser eye safety device can result in little or no protection for the eyes, so it is imperative to understand what laser system is being used and select an appropriate lens type.
Employees complain about safety eyewear being uncomfortable, what can I do?

One of the most common complaints is about the comfort level of laser eye safety devices, which may lead to employees removing the safety equipment. A good way to avoid this problem is to allow employees to try on several different styles of glasses or goggles and choose the one that is most comfortable to them. With higher levels of comfort with the glasses or goggles employees are far less likely to remove them or to attempt to avoid wearing them at all. Since most styles are designed to fit adult sizes, having a few different frame options in the workplace is a low cost way to avoid this issue.

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Neoprene Gloves Q & A

Neoprene gloves are good for what types of medical use? 
Neoprene gloves are a good match for virtually any type of medical use or procedure. They are durable and strong and are considered to be superior to latex in many aspects in high risk settings. These gloves are available as examination gloves as well as sterile surgical gloves.

The thin, yet very flexible surface of the neoprene glove gives a high level of tactile sensation while still remaining very puncture resistant and tear resistant in all types of applications. In situations that are considered medium to high risk, as well as if latex allergies are an issue for either the patient or the medical staff, these gloves are a perfect alternative. While they can also be used as general examination gloves they are a bit more expensive than some of the non-latex options out there such as vinyl exam gloves.

Are there different types of neoprene gloves and what is the difference?
There are several different types of neoprene gloves. The most critical distinction in medical settings is between sterile surgical gloves and non-sterile examination gloves. In addition they come in powder and powder free options, which is typically a personal preference difference. Powdered gloves may be easier to pull on and remove since the powder provides lubrication inside the glove itself.

Neoprene gloves can also be sold as smooth or textured on the fingertips. Textured fingertips provide slightly more traction or grip potential, ideal for handling medical equipment and supplies while wearing gloves. There are different colors of neoprene gloves on the market, although the most common color option is green.

Can neoprene gloves make a good alternative to a vinyl examination glove?

Neoprene gloves can be a great option to a vinyl glove, especially if constant glove changes are not required. The higher cost of neoprene over vinyl may not make this practical in larger clinical settings or in situations where multiple glove changes are required on an ongoing basis. For home health care providers they are a good choice over vinyl since they are stronger, more chemical and puncture resistant and tend to fit more snuggly to the hand. With no latex worries for either patients or medical staff these gloves are really worth consideration in wide range of examination and patient care applications. There are many types of gloves available, each for different uses. Neoprene gloves have their own unique qualities that make them more desirable for certain procedures.

What is the fit like with neoprene gloves and is it comparable to latex?

Neoprene has more elasticity than nitrile and vinyl, and tends to fit very much like a traditional latex glove. There is a fairly high level of memory in the glove, ensuring that it stays tight against the skin despite hand and finger movements and stretching. These gloves offer barrier protection against exterior fluids, making it very comparable to latex gloves. However, they cut down possibility of allergens, which adds to their appeal. The only concern with neoprene is that it will tear easily when punctured, which may be an issue in some hospital settings and home health care applications.

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Hydrocolloid Dressings Q & A

Friday, April 08, 2011

When is it best to use hydrocolloid dressings, and can they be used on dry skin as well as wet skin?

Any wound is typically a good candidate for the use of a hydrocolloid dressing. They are ideal for wounds with mild to moderate exudate. but can also be used very effectively on dry wounds. Hydrocolloids are perhaps the most commonly used of all wound treatment dressings because they are so versatile. They can be used effectively on wet wounds as well as dry wounds. When wounds produce mild to moderate exudate, the gel in the hydrocolloid dressing is activated to provide a barrier to prevent injury to the wound. In addition the exterior of the dressing is designed to be waterproof from the outside while still allowing excess fluid and gel to be expelled from the dressing. This is not true of all hydrocolloid dressings, however. Some are designed to retain the fluids and have a thicker, more cohesive gel that remains in the dressing.

One of the advantages of using hydrocolloid dressing is that it can be applied to both moist or wet skin as well as dry skin. This is an important feature in wound dressing in emergency situations, or when immediate wound treatment is required before periwound tissues are properly dried.

What are the gel-forming compounds used in hydrocolloid dressings?

The actual gel-forming agents within the dressing may vary depending on the specific brand or type of hydrocolloid dressing. In many dressings, the gel forming agent is carboxymethylcellulose combined with a natural gelatin product. There will be additional types of materials, including adhesives that are included in the dressing. Finally, a polyurethane foam will be used to form the barrier and contain the gel once it is formed by contact with the exudate.

The types and combinations of gelatins and other compounds in the hydrocolloid dressing is the key factor in determining the type of gel produced. Thicker gels are preferred by many, since this eliminates the need for more frequent dressing changes even with moderate exudate levels.

Can hydrocolloid dressings be used on diabetic wounds and for burn treatment?

Any type of wound that requires frequent changes, or that may result in patient pain and discomfort during changes is a good candidate for a hydrocolloid dressing. This includes diabetic types of ulcers and wounds as well as burns. There is some research that indicates that care needs to be taken in any use of hydrocolloid dressings where necrotic tissue is present at the time of dressing. It is essential that all necrotic tissue be removed from the wound and only healthy periwound tissue be left before using a hydrocolloid dressing. In cases where this is not carefully done prior to using the dressing there is a high risk of the necrotic tissue spreading under the dressing, resulting in a more significant wound. Many doctors carefully evaluate each particular wound, particularly in diabetics, before deciding if this is the correct choice in dressing. There are many different types of dressings, and each serves a specific function. Hydrocolloid dressings are a great choice for wounds with low to moderate exudate.

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Laser Eye Protection Q & A

What is the typical cost of laser eye protection devices such as laser glasses or laser safety goggles?

As with most safety equipment, there is a wide range of prices for laser eye protection devices. This is definitely not an area where shopping only at websites offering deeply discounted prices is a good idea. Health and safety should be taken seriously when working around this type of equipment. Most companies offering laser eye protection carry a range of products that will fit your organization's needs while meeting its budget. Typically, prices vary from around two hundred and fifty dollars to just over three hundred dollars a pair. Choosing polycarbonate lenses over glass lenses, as well as selecting frames that are lower cost can help decrease the expense of these items without reducing the quality of protection for your employees and technicians. Prescription types of radiation eyewear are in the same price range, of course depending largely on the type of lens and the specifics of the prescription.

Where can I purchase laser eye protection and how many glasses or goggles am I required to purchase in an order?

Purchasing laser eye protection online is a good option that can save you time and money. Some companies may require that you purchase a minimum dollar amount or number of items, but there are also companies that allow any size of order. If this is the first time ordering with a company, consider placing a small order and checking out the shipping charges, delivery time, and the ability of the company to make the sale work for you as the consumer. If you wish to be invoiced, or set up an account with the company, this will also be a consideration you will need to research before placing the order.
It is important to carefully read and understand the return policy, no matter which online company you order from. Some companies only allow returns within a set time of the order and only for very specific reasons. Some may also charge a restocking free for you to return the product. In most cases, you will also be required to pay the return shipping charge. Knowing the policy and following any specific requirements for a return will make the transaction as smooth as possible in the event that the laser safety eyewear isn't what you wanted.

With very dark tinted lenses for specific laser wavelengths what additional considerations need to be in place?

Depending on the type of laser system in use, the glasses or goggles may have very dark tinted lenses. If this is the case, additional light sources may be needed for employee safety and vision. If vision is restricted because of the combination of dark lenses and overall reduced lighting, it is not a safe work environment. Check all requirements and follow all OSHA and ANSI standards for both workplace lighting as well as laser safety protection in the workplace. Having a work area with enough visibility, combined with the correct laser eye protection will allow for a safe and smooth experience.

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Sterile Gloves Q & A

What are the materials most commonly used in making sterile gloves for surgical procedures?
There are a variety of different materials used in making sterile gloves. The oldest and still a very popular option is latex, which is commonly used for heavy duty, high risk types of procedures that require highly tear and puncture resistant gloves. Newer options for sterile gloves include nitrile and neoprene exam gloves. Both of these are good options for all types of medical use since they have a very low risk of allergic reaction, which is a common problem with the latex gloves, even the powder-free options. It is important to keep in mind that any gloves could potentially cause rashes, allergic reactions and irritation for individuals with sensitive skin.

Materials used in making sterile gloves need to be non-porous and resistant to tears and punctures as well as have a good level of elasticity to allow the glove to conform to the hand. They also need to be lightweight and comfortable for short to long duration wear. The additional feature of surgical or examination gloves, especially those used in medical procedures, is a good fit and high level of tactile sensitivity for the wearer. While most sterile gloves are not readily biodegradable some of the old products, particularly latex, are better at being more completely destroyed after use, without any of the problems associated with the new polymer materials.

What is the most common mistake made in putting on sterile gloves?

Using the sterile glove technique takes a lot of practice but it does ensure that the exterior of the glove remains contaminant free and sterile. One common mistake is incorrectly using the gloved hand to assist in putting the glove on the other hand, which is typically the non-dominant hand. The gloved hand may slip out from under the cuff of the glove or the individual may pull incorrectly upward on the cuff allowing the gloved hand to make contact with non-sterile surfaces. In addition placing the exterior wrapper of the sterile glove packaging on the sterile field is another common error prior to putting the gloves on.

Are there sterile gloves for examination procedures that are not acceptable for surgical work?

Different types of sterile gloves are approved for either examination only or surgical and examination purposes. Sterile gloves made of latex, neoprene and a material known as polyisoprene can be used for both examination and surgical work. Polyisoprene is not commonly used in surgical procedures since it is relatively permeable with regards to providing barrier protection for the skin plus it is not as puncture resistant as the other options available. There are some nitrile gloves that are approved for surgical procedures but not all so careful examination of the information provided on the packaging is important. 

Vinyl and some nitrile gloves are approved for examination purposes only. Vinyl gloves are simply too lightweight and easily punctured, plus with very limited elasticity these gloves are not ideal in any type of sterile environment.

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