Strategies for Optimizing the Supply of Disposable Medical Gloves

Mary Madison, RN, RAC-CT, CDP
Clinical Consultant – Briggs Healthcare

CDC updated this guidance on Sunday, October 25, 2020.

These considerations are intended for use by federal, state, and local public health officials; leaders in occupational health services and infection prevention and control programs; and other leaders in healthcare settings who are responsible for developing and implementing policies and procedures for preventing pathogen transmission in healthcare settings.

Surge capacity refers to the ability to manage a sudden increase in patient volume that would severely challenge or exceed the present capacity of a facility. While there are no widely accepted measurements or triggers to distinguish surge capacity from daily patient care capacity, surge capacity is a useful framework to approach a decreased supply of gloves during the COVID-19 response. To help healthcare facilities plan and optimize the use of gloves in response to COVID-19, CDC has developed a Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Burn Rate Calculator. Three general strata have been used to describe surge capacity and can be used to prioritize measures to conserve glove supplies along the continuum of care.

  • Conventional capacity: measures consisting of engineering, administrative, and personal protective equipment (PPE) controls that should already be implemented in general infection prevention and control plans in healthcare settings.
  • Contingency capacity: measure that may be used temporarily during periods of expected glove shortages. Contingency capacity strategies should only be implemented after considering and implementing conventional capacity strategies. While current supply may meet the facility’s current or anticipated utilization rate, there may be uncertainty if future supply will be adequate and, therefore, contingency capacity strategies may be needed.
  • Crisis capacity: strategies that are not commensurate with U.S. standards of care but may need to be considered during periods of known gloves shortages. Crisis capacity strategies should only be implemented after considering and implementing conventional and contingency capacity strategies. Facilities can consider crisis capacity strategies when the supply is not able to meet the facility’s current or anticipated utilization rate.

CDC’s optimization strategies for glove supply offer a continuum of options for use when glove supplies are stressed, running low, or exhausted. Contingency and then crisis capacity measures augment conventional capacity measures and are meant to be considered and implemented sequentially. Once glove availability returns to normal, healthcare facilities should promptly resume standard practices.