BMJ study finds gumboots no protection from blood splashes

28 Aug 2011 | Infection Prevention & Control

A study published in the New Zealand Medical Journal, and reported in the Dominion Post, says blood found its way into nearly 60 percent of gumboots worn by surgery staff in theatre.

Researchers say contamination could be putting medical staff at risk of blood-borne infections, such as hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV.

Lead author Mike Clarke checked 94 pairs of gumboots worn by staff at Christchurch Hospital and found 55 pairs had blood inside them. About 80 per cent of contaminated pairs had blood spots larger than 20 square millimetres – about the size of a 20c piece.

The gumboots worn by medical staff during surgery are plain, white boots, similar to those worn by freezing workers.

Gowns that were too short could be the culprits, the study said.

"The most likely cause would seem to be runoff from gowns into the open neck of gumboots."

Although the risk of infection from blood splashes was low, safety requirements meant that all blood should be viewed as contaminated. For more, see Stuff.

Last updated 06/01/2012