Graham Johnson reports that health and safety fears about latex allergy have prompted some NHS trusts and health boards to consider switching from surgical and examination gloves made of natural rubber latex (NRL) to synthetic alternatives. This strategy may be misguided.
The 2002 Court of Appeal support for a civil claim for damages by a nurse who had developed an allergy as a result of wearing NRL gloves (Dugmore vs Swansea NHS Trust) was incorrectly interpreted by some to mean that the use of NRL gloves should be outlawed.
Many NHS trusts still believe that the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has banned NRL gloves. This is not the case, and some trusts may have over-reacted in deciding to switch to a latex-free policy.