Universal Precautions

Universal Precautions What Are They Really?

Today
many EMS personnel wear gloves on every call. Many even leave their
gloves on for the entire call. Some even leave them on after patient
contact and drive with their gloves still on. EMS Instructors now
require students to verbalize, “I’m putting on gloves” at the beginning
of every scenario. Are these appropriate applications of Universal
Precautions? No they are not. In fact, inappropriate use of gloves is
probably the single biggest contributing factor to developing skin
problems associated with gloves.

Universal
precautions means wearing appropriate protection when you may be at
risk of direct contact with blood or body fluids. Do you need gloves on
just to take a blood pressure on a regular medical patient? No, and if
blood or body fluids are not present you are exposing yourself to
long-term risks of acquired allergic response by wearing gloves too
much, for too long. Do you need gloves on to drive the ambulance? No,
and you are probably creating more risk by contaminating the crew cab.
When should you take them off? Gloves should be removed after
performing the procedure or contact, which required their use. In other
words, take them off right away after you have completed the procedure
that placed you at risk.

If
you leave your gloves on and then handle your equipment, including the
Defibrillator, Cot, Medical Bags and Cot Mount locking bar, you are
contaminating surfaces you are likely to touch later barehanded. You
are SPREADING disease, not preventing it. In the process, you create an
unwanted risk of long-term problems. These are problems that can even
shorten your healthcare career. Use common sense, and wear gloves when
you need them, and then take them off as soon as you don’t. In this way
you better protect yourself, your partner, and your family.

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About Dan White

I'm a retired Paramedic and EMS Instructor with 35 years EMS and emergency medical product experience. I love canoes, cars and EMS. I write about EMS Technology on the Paramedic Blog, the Insights on Innovation column for EMS1.com, on AmbulanceWorld.com and Multibriefs.com. I work for Intersurgical, Inc. managing EMS sales and distribution. I can be reached directly at 573-240-0002. Follow me @Paradan on Twitter
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One Response to Universal Precautions

  1. Unknown says:

    Thank goodness…finally, a voice of reality! Is EMS, as a community, able to implement a change without making it an all or nothing situation? Look at the glove situation…look at the use of cervical collars and backboards…the list goes on. Come on folks…let\’s use some common sense… understand the problem, understand the "solution", and help our trainers and Medical Control folks cause sensible, logical changes to happen.

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