Medical glove standards are different for surgical and exam gloves. Medical gloves are meant to prevent the spread of bacteria, normally between caregiver and patient. Medical gloves are used to stop the unregulated spread of disease in medical settings. Besides protecting the patient, it also protects the caregiver. Halsted's germ theory of disease helped medical care providers begin to understand how to stop the spread of pathogens.
Latex, vinyl, nitrile rubber and neoprene are the most common polymers used to produce medical gloves. Latex surgical gloves allow for increased sensitivity to touch but many people are allergic to latex. Latex-free gloves tend to be more expensive and do not give as much fine motor control.
Medical glove standards rate the strength, flexibility and ability to withstand pinholes. Each approved glove must be water-resistant and meet standard minimum requirements for strength and barrier protection. The Acceptable Quality Level (AQL) tests are used to determine the quality of the product. The lower the AQL rating, the higher the quality. The three tests used to determine the quality of a glove are the water leak test, the air inflation test and the chemical permeation test.
The strength is determined by its ability to stretch as well as its ability to resist tears, punctures and breakage. Elongation is done by stretching the glove until it breaks. The higher the elongation time, the better the quality and the higher the elasticity. Medical gloves should always fit well, have consistent sizing and be waterproof.
Medical personal should be trained to know which type of glove is necessary for each task. They should always be checked for rips and tears after being put on and before beginning any medical exam or procedure. Gloves need to be well-fitting and all healthcare personal should be properly trained on the procedures for donning and doffing gloves.