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NRHS switches to non latex gloves
Norman Regional Health System is taking the initiative to become a latex safe health care environment. The first phase of the initiative will begin in March with the use of new latex free non-sterile exam gloves.
The reason for this change is two-fold: to reduce the likelihood of exposing a latex sensitive patient and reduce latex exposure for health care employees. In recent years, the increase in prevalence of latex allergy has been recognized as a significant problem for both patients and health care providers. The incident of latex allergy throughout the general population is estimated between 1% and 6%, while in health care employees regularly exposed to latex-containing devices and products it is 8% to 17%. It is anticipated that 1 in 50 healthcare workers will develop a latex sensitivity each year.
Latex products are manufactured from the milky sap of the rubber tree, found in Africa or Southeast Asia. Some people are allergic to the protein found in this rubber. The allergic reactions are similar to those caused by food allergies or bee stings. They can range from mild to severe including: itchy, watery eyes; coughing; rash or hives; wheezing, irregular heartbeat; swelling in the hands and feet; and construction of airways. In extreme cases, anaphylactic shock, which can occur minutes after exposure, can lead to death.
The switch to latex free non-sterile exam gloves was a suggestion from the Latex Safe Task Force. It was created in October 2007 to make Norman Regional’s health care environment as safe as possible for both patients and employees through the evaluation of product and process improvement. The task force is currently working the most effective way to communicate a patient’s known latex allergy across the continuum of care as well as identify other products that can be replaced with cost-effective latex free alternatives.
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