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Latex allergy in Washington State acute care hospitals: an assessment of needs, knowledge, and controls.

Cohen-MA; Kaufmann-JD; Sama-S
American Industrial Hygiene Conference and Exposition, May 19-23, 1997, Dallas, Texas. Fairfax, VA: American Industrial Hygiene Association, 1997 May; :75
The Washington State Department of Labor & Industries, Safety & Health Assessment and Research for Prevention (SHARP) Program is conducting NIOSH funded surveillance of occupational skin disorders. Based on reports from the workers' compensation system and a network of sentinel health providers, latex gloves are one of the most prevalent source of occupational skin disorders in the state. To better understand the extent of knowledge of the problem and what health care facilities were doing to deal with the problem, questionnaires were distributed to acute care hospitals in Washington State. Employee health and infection control specialists were queried on: the symptoms of latex allergies, the potential causes of latex allergies, whether they felt that their facility had a 'problem' with latex, the number of workers exposed to latex materials in the hospital; the number of employees with a latex allergy; and what, if anything they had done to control the problem, and whether the changes had been effective. With 95 (93%) hospitals returning completed questionnaires, 30% reported having 'problems' with latex allergies among employees in their facility with a median number of between 1 and 2 cases. There was relatively good knowledge about the causes and effects of latex allergies, but definite knowledge gaps existed. More than 60% of the hospitals had made some type of glove alternatives available to affected employees, 4% had designated latex free zones, 4% had cleaned to remove latex dust, while 7% had done nothing. An information package on latex allergies may be developed and sent to facilities in the health care industry.
Skin-disorders; Skin; Skin-exposure; Skin-irritants; Skin-sensitivity; Questionnaires; Infection-control; Health-protection; Allergens; Allergic-dermatitis; Allergic-disorders; Allergic-reactions; Allergies; Workers; Worker-health; Health-care-facilities; Health-care-personnel; Medical-personnel; Medical-facilities
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American Industrial Hygiene Conference and Exposition, May 19-23, 1997, Dallas, Texas