Gloves off row hits Hospital Authority

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 23 September, 1997, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 23 September, 1997, 12:00am

Medical workers have urged the Hospital Authority to consider phasing out powdered latex surgical gloves, claiming they can cause allergies and increase the risk of infection in patients.

The warning came after the European Journal of Surgery recently published studies documenting the problems, which also include false diagnoses of cancer and HIV.

An international medical conference in Hong Kong last week warned of similar dangers.

Chinese University's adjunct associate professor of medicine Roland Leung Chung-chuen called for a broad rethink.

'The Hospital Authority should definitely consider phasing out the gloves, especially considering alternative plastic gloves free of latex and powder are available,' he said.

Association of Hong Kong Nursing Staff assistant secretary Kenneth Ho Hung-kwun agreed. 'It's better to use gloves free of these foreign substances. Staff should be encouraged to do so.' Concern centres on the starch-based powder added to the gloves to make them easier to slip on and off.

Dr Leung said proteins in the latex, which could cause allergic reactions, sometimes moved to the surface and became airborne in the powder.

New studies show the powder can cause serious inflammation and slow the healing of wounds.

In one case, it also caused the misdiagnosis of inflamed lumps of tissue as cancer, and it interfered with an HIV test.

The Hospital Authority said it would study the new findings but did not consider the gloves a danger.

Medical staff were free to use alternative gloves.



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