The Sticky Test

One of the first assessment skills I learned when learning about trauma assessment was the “sticky test.”  Done early in the assessment, it was designed to a be a quick once over on a patient to check for any bleeding.  The EMT runs their hands over the patient occasionally looking at their gloves to check for any bleeding that might be severe enough to need immediate treatment.  It is a very effective technique.  I know of people who have found missed stab wounds or injuries simply by looking with their hands.

At a fire department where I used to work in Massachusetts and in a few departments in my new system I have noticed EMTs and first responders using black non-latex gloves.  Black.  How are you supposed to see anything or know where your hands have been with black gloves on?

On a typical call, I usually go through two sets of gloves, sometimes more.  If I am not taking my gloves off, I am always looking at them before I touch a bag, or my radio, or before I go into my pockets or a cabinet to get any equipment.  How can one do that if they are wearing black gloves?

Furthermore, what about black straps or bags?  Doesn’t that pose the same problem?  Maintaining clean equipment is dependent on being able to tell what equipment is contaminated.  It’s time to move away from the red and the black. Green, especially ANSI compliant light green, is the way to go for bags.  Sure, it’s a little tough on the eyes but it makes the provider more visible and it makes it much easier to identify those little pieces of a call that we occasionally take with us.

The same goes for straps.  Anything that we can do to make ourselves more visible is vital.  Its time to move away from black.

And finally, the black gloves?  Let’s toss those boxes out.  The companies that make them need to stop.  You can’t properly treat a patient if you cannot properly assess them, and you can’t properly assess a patient with black treatment gloves on.

  • Cici S.

    My assessment of the situation is less scientific, if you will. Black gloves are plain daunting and morbid, doing little for “peace of mind”. I feel if someone approached me with black gloves on, then surely I must be dying! Me? I prefer “happy” colors such as the lavender Wing hospital has or the turquoise Baystate carries or even the pink I’ve been able to snag on rare occasions. So far I get great response from my patients and my female patients really enjoy the lavender or pink. 🙂 either way you put it, RIP black gloves!

  • Pingback: The MedicCast | Dr. Kevin Seaman on Cardiac Arrest Survival and Episode 324()