The pandemic has brought a lot of focus to the some items that were the mainstay of hospitals and doctors’ offices, had some use in households, maybe for a paint job, or cleaning the bathroom or garage but now as essential as shoes before we step out of the home – face masks and…. gloves!
Did you know the interesting story of how rubber gloves came about for use in the operating room? It is for the same reasons as we are now urged to use them, to protect ourselves and our loved ones!
I cannot think of a better subject line than the one in this article I came across:
Thin rubber gloves were used for the first time in the history of medicine at the end of 1889. On the occasion of the 120th anniversary of that event at the end of 2009, the great importance of that discovery for the development of surgery in general should be emphasized once again. The surgical gloves were invented and introduced by the famous American surgeon Dr. William Halsted from John Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore (USA).
DR. WILLIAM HALSTED AND MISS CAROLINE HAMPTON: This significant innovation actually occurred thanks to the romance between Dr. W. Halsted and his scrub nurse Miss Caroline Hampton, later his wife, Mrs. C. Halsted. According to the antiseptic practice of that hospital, the hands of the operating personnel had to be disinfected in mercuric chloride which damaged the skin of nurse Caroline. She developed a bad case of dermatitis, and because of that she considered abandoning the hospital. This prompted Dr. Halsted to contract Goodyear Rubber Company to produce thin rubber gloves to protect Caroline's hands and to keep her in his vicinity. They proved to be very satisfactory and soon Dr. Halsted's assistants too began to wear sterilized rubber gloves routinely.
Although it was not until later that the importance of rubber gloves in preventing infection was realized these "gloves of love" soon entered into general surgical practice and proved to be of the greatest importance for the development of asepsis and aseptic surgical work.