Johns Hopkins Hospital Removing All Latex Gloves, Products

The Johns Hopkins Hospital announced Jan. 14 that is has become the first major medical institution to become "latex safe" by ending all uses of natural rubber latex gloves and almost all medical latex products. Johns Hopkins is now using sterile neoprene and polyisoprene gloves in the operating room and neoprene gloves for all non-sterile procedures requiring the use of gloves. "Latex hospital gloves were invented here, so it's only fitting that Johns Hopkins takes the initiative to promoting alternatives," said Johns Hopkins anesthesiologist Robert H. Brown, M.D., M.P.H., who chairs the John Hopkins Hospital Latex Task Force.

Two Hopkins immunologists, Robert Hamilton, Ph.D., and Franklin Adkinson, M.D., conducted early research about latex's role as an allergen. Brown said nurses and other front-line hospital workers have been instrumental in implementing the new policy and educating staffers. Up to 15 percent of health care workers and about 6 percent of the general public are allergic to latex, studies show.

Ridding the hospital of all latex is a challenge, Brown said in a news release posted by the Johns Hopkins Health Systems. "We are still searching the hospital for the few remaining medical latex products that we might have overlooked, although we can safely say that all major latex products that are a clear risk to health care workers and patients have been eliminated," he said.

A good resource on allergens in hospital environments is "Healthy Choices: Transforming Our Hospitals into Environmentally Healthy and Safe Places," written by Barbara Sattler, RN, DrPH, FAAN, and Kathryn Hall, RN, MSN. Published in the May 2007 issue of the American Nurses Association's Online Journal of Issues in Nursing, the article lists 11 chemicals, including natural rubber latex, that either cause asthma or trigger asthma symptoms in someone who has asthma. The article is posted at http://nursingworld.org/MainMenuCategories/ANAMarketplace/ANAPeriodicals/OJIN/TableofContents/Volume122007/May31/HealthyChoices.aspx,

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