Double Gloving in the OR

A study by the Association of periOperative Registered Nurses (AORN) reveals that health care providers were less likely to find blood on their hands after surgery if they wore two pairs of gloves instead of one.

The two-year AORN study also revealed that providers prefer wearing two pairs of gloves during surgery.

Researchers looked at three different variables: the amount of blood on the hands after wearing one or two pairs of gloves; the durability of different colors of gloves; and the frequency of glove tears on both inner and outer gloves.

Researchers found that the frequency of changing gloves during surgery was considerably higher for providers who wore dark-colored gloves under light-colored gloves rather than those who wore two pairs of gloves of the same color.

Many professional organizations, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, and the American College of Surgeons recommend double gloving to create a safer working environment. The following studies support their recommendations:

  • According to a study in a 2006 edition of International Surgery, perforation rates of gloves during surgery have been reported as high as 61% for thoracic surgeons and 40% for scrub personnel. Double gloving decreases the risk of exposure to bloodborne pathogens by as much as 87% when the outer glove is punctured.
  • Up to 16% of injuries occur while passing sharps instruments hand-to-hand, according to a 2004 study in the Journal of the American College of Surgeons.
  • Tactile sensitivity does not appear to be greatly diminished when wearing two pairs of gloves. In a study from 2004 published in the Journal of the American College of Surgeons, there was an 88% acceptance rate in the group that wore double-gloves, and of those, 88% did not perceive any decrease in tactile sensitivity.

For more information about the AORN study, visit



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