Between 1988 and 1994, as part of a nationwide survey conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics, more than 5500 randomly selected adults were tested for sensitivity to latex. Results of the survey showed that one in five people in the United States is likely to be sensitive to natural rubber latex regardless of his or her occupation. Although not all who are sensitive to latex will display allergic symptoms, it is good practice to be prepared for that possibility. Providing latex-free gloves is a practical measure. Asking new hires or patients latex allergy questions is another preventive step. Because planning for the latex-allergic person involves many departments and services, establishing a committee to manage latex allergy is beneficial. Many healthcare manufacturers are also responding to growing latex-free needs by providing latex-free product lines, procedure modules and cart systems. Managing latex allergy can become easier with the help of a facility-wide committee to address the issue and manufacturers and suppliers who have adapted to the issue.
*Article published in Infection Control Today, May 2000.