Still Using Latex Bands?
5th January, 2024

The Use of Latex Within Hospitals.

As of 2008, the NHS has been undergoing changes in equipment to non-latex alternatives. This comes as a way to reduce the overall risk of reactions in both patients and healthcare professionals. Those with a latex allergy, as well as those who spend a lot of time around latex products, can commonly develop sensitivity to latex proteins. This leads to reactions and illnesses, some more serious than others. By switching to non-latex products, patients and professionals diagnosed, and undiagnosed, are protected in healthcare environments.

Of all the products and equipment used within hospitals, a considerable amount contain latex as a key component. However, where latex allergies are involved, including both minor and major allergies, this can present serious risks for both patients and healthcare professionals.

Creating An Environment Safe From Latex.

In order to create a safer environment for affected patients, hospitals have certain guidelines and risk assessments they must follow when handling latex products. In order to create a latex free environment, they must have a product list to hand that includes a list of latex free products that can be substituted when everyday medical equipment is not suitable. This list must be available in emergency treatment areas.

Reactions to latex differ for each individual, as some may be more sensitive than others. In order to maintain a safe environment, the aim is to reduce the risk of exposure to latex to a minimum and keep it reduced where possible. this will reduce the overall risk of a serious reaction occurring and a patient being put in danger. However, if this is to occur, healthcare professionals must be prepared to treat the reaction as quickly and as safely as possible.

Although the guidelines set are to prevent reactions under any circumstances, the sensitivity to latex varies and cannot be measured. This means that patients may have a reaction when latex comes in contact with skin, or they may have an intolerance to the latex powder in gloves and on wards. These may not stop reactions from taking place but are meant to help reduce the risk of serious and re-occurring reactions.

Identifying the intensity of allergens and patients with intolerance to latex can be difficult. However, there are measures in place to help identify possible patients with a latex allergy, these include patients with serious allergy to fruits. Alternatively, patients who have experienced episodes of anaphylaxis should be considered for a potential allergy to latex.

When an allergy is identified, it is vital that the patient’s allergy is easily identifiable to other healthcare professionals and within all departments the patient will be expected to visit. Patients records and medical notes must be labelled to explain there is a latex allergy, as well as their hospitals room/bed, depending on the circumstances of their illness/visit. 

 

Latex free rubber bands in Hospital

Latex free rubber bands in Hospital.

 

What Equipment Contains Latex?

Medical equipment containing latex can be some of the most commonly used pieces of equipment, for both serious illnesses and minor injuries. These can include:

 

Managing and identifying ‘non-latex’ equipment can be difficult but it is important that an up-to-date record is kept when latex-free equipment is purchased and stored.

One of the most frequent latex products used in healthcare environments is examination and surgical gloves. These are worn by all healthcare professionals in hospitals. These must be removed from settings where a patient has a latex allergy and replaced with a safe alternative.

Sterile and synthetic gloves are good alternatives to latex gloves and must be used when competing procedures on all, patients. For patient examinations and surgeries, vinyl gloves are recommended as the appropriate substitute to latex. However, these are not as protective against particles as common latex gloves are.

For resuscitation equipment, it is important that trolleys are prepped with latex free equipment including powderless gloves and non lates gloves. Other products should be readily available, including latex free breathing equipment (masks, catheters, oral equipment).

Preparing For A Latex Allergy.

There are steps that are put in place to protect patients from latex allergens when visiting wards within hospital. These are as follows:

 

Other hospital services are also to be made aware of patients with latex allergies so that cleaning staff wear non latex gloves around the patient and kitchen staff are expected to wear synthetic gloves when preparing food.

Overall, over the past years, medical equipment as progressively migrated over to non-latex products. However, there are still products where an alternative is to be introduced.

If you are looking for a latex-free version of a product, contact a member of our sales team on 01274 965089 or email info@nicheofficesolutions.co.uk where our team will do our best to help you!

For more information, contact us 01274 965089 or check out our website at www.nicheofficesolutions.co.uk / www.nicheofficesolutions.co.uk/niche-nhs

Further clinical information can be found on our blog page: www.nicheofficesolutions.co.uk/category/niche-healthcare-news

For products not found on our online website, please view our Healthcare catalogues: www.nicheofficesolutions.co.uk/healthcare-catalogues

If you have any additional questions, drop us an email at info@nicheofficesolutions.co.uk

 

Interesting Facts About Latex Allergies!

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