Removing their gloves and gowns improperly can increase the risks for hospital workers to be contaminated with diseases, a new study revealed.

More than 400 hospital workers at four hospitals in Ohio re-enacted the removal of personal protective equipment, and were given fluorescent lotion to rub on their gloved hands. Researchers used black light to look for contamination of the fluorescent lotion on the forearms, hands, face, neck, hair and clothing.

In a report issued in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine, roughly 46 percent or 200 respondents showed contamination of skin or clothing through the fluorescent lotion, and contamination occurred mostly during the removal of gloves. Contamination rates ranged from 42.5 percent to 50.3 percent among the four hospitals. Contamination due to the improper usage of gloves occurred almost 52.9 percent during the simulation.

Meanwhile, a separate group of medical personnel participated in a lecture and training on the proper removal of contaminated personal protective equipment.

The group was retested twice, after one month and again three months later, to see if there were any improvements, and the researchers discovered a significant drop in the contamination rate from 60 percent to 19 percent.

"Most of the participants appeared to be unaware of the high risk for contamination and many reported receiving minimal or no training in putting on and taking off (personal protective equipment)," said lead researcher Dr. Curtis J. Donskey of the Cleveland Veterans Affairs Medical Center.

Donskey said that it was important to figure out better methods to train hospital workers regarding the removal of personal protective equipment. It was ideal to produce a design of protective clothing that could reduce the risk of contamination, because when the respondents failed to remove their equipment properly, they were contaminated 70 percent of the time. Even if they conduct it well, they still contaminated themselves 30 percent of the time, the study revealed.

Dr. Michelle Doll of Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, co-author of the study, explained that with recent occurrence of Ebola in the United States, contamination during removal of personal protective equipment leaves workers at risk. She said that the study exposed an issue that happens even during routine patient care.

"In situations when we do decide to use these tools (for infection prevention, we need to optimize techniques to achieve the best efficacy possible. Otherwise it is wasteful of healthcare worker efforts and hospital resources," added Doll.

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