Emerg Med J 20:66 doi:10.1136/emj.20.1.66
  • Best evidence topic reports

Use of sterile gloves in the treatment of simple wounds

  1. Derek Keith Sage, East Anglian Trainees,
  2. Jon Argall, Senior Clinical Fellow,
  3. K Mackway-Jones
  1. Department of Emergency Medicine, Manchester Royal Infirmary, Oxford Road, Manchester M13 9WL, UK; kevin.mackway-jones{at}


      A short cut review was carried out to establish whether the use of sterile gloves during the treatment of simple wounds reduces infections. Altogether 48 papers were found using the reported search, but none presented any evidence to answer the clinical question. More research is needed in this area and, in the mean time, local advice should be followed.

      Report by Derek Keith Sage, East Anglian Trainees
 Checked by Jon Argall, Senior Clinical Fellow

      Clinical scenario

      A patient presents to the emergency department with a laceration to his left hand. The wound needs cleaning and suturing. You wonder whether sterile gloves are really necessary in the treatment of simple wounds.

      Three part question

      In [patients with simple wounds] does the use of [sterile gloves rather than clean non-sterile gloves] produce less [wound infections]?

      Search strategy

      Medline 1966–10/02 using the OVID interface. [exp “wounds and injuries” OR exp wounds, penetrating OR exp lacerations OR] AND [exp gloves, surgical OR exp gloves, protective OR] AND [exp infection OR OR exp focal infection OR exp surgical wound infection OR exp wound infection] LIMIT to human AND English.

      Search outcome

      Altogether 48 papers were found none of which directly answered the question.


      There seems to be no available evidence for the use of sterile gloves over clean non-sterile gloves in the treatment of simple traumatic wounds.


      It is arguably unethical to start using non-sterile gloves where the tradition has been to use sterile gloves but this is an area for potential research.

      Responses to this article

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