Your PPE Sprung a Leak!

Reviewed by Clare Marlin, MS, RN, CIC, Shirley Ryan AbilityLab, Chicago, IL

Healthcare workers (HCWs) may be exposed to blood and body fluids, among other splashes and sprays, throughout their professional day and are dependent on personal protective equipment (PPE) to help ensure their continued protection and safety. When PPE is appropriately donned, the glove-gown interface is the area (or edges) between the open end of the glove where it comes up the wrist/lower arm and the sleeve of the gown at the wrist/under the glove. While the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) began requiring PPE in 1991, there is no current consistent method to assess the performance of PPE’s capacity to prevent fluid leakage at the glove-gown interface due to several factors including variable terminology for describing PPE materials and variances in ways PPE is tested. The authors sought to more fully examine fluid leakage at the glove-gown interface by quantitatively comparing fluid leakage through simulating upper extremity movements which commonly occur during healthcare tasks using a robotic arm wearing a combination of examination gloves of varying lengths and isolation gowns of different fabrics. The film gown with heat-sealed seams and the thumb loop design, and the gloves with the extended cuffs, provided the best protection from fluid leakage at the glove-gown interface. The authors conclude a consistent assessment is still needed for fluid leakage evaluation and recommend PPE gowns and gloves should be designed as a working system to prevent fluid leakage as they are meant to often work in tandem.


Kahveci, Z. et al. (2021). A simulation study to assess fluid leakage through the glove-gown interface in isolation settings. American Journal of Infection Control, doi: 10.1016/j.ajic.2021.08.013

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