Changing Gloves Between Vaginal and Rectal Examination: An Additional Reason

Joseph E. Scherger, MD
JAMA. 1987;257(2):191. doi:10.1001/jama.1987.03390020057026.
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To the Editor.—  In a recent letter to JAMA, Dr Wilbanks1 described the importance of changing gloves between vaginal and rectal examination to avoid rectal contamination with vaginal organisms. The author indicated that this is a reinstitution of an old practice for new diseases by describing the changing nature of vaginal organisms. There is a much more pragmatic reason for changing gloves between vaginal and rectal examinations—to avoid false-positive test results for occult blood.During the year before I began routinely changing gloves, two of my woman patients had false-positive results on occult blood tests by rectal examination. Obtaining a Papanicolaou smear often results in a small amount of bleeding from the cervix. Since the bimanual examination usually follows the speculum examination and Papanicolaou smear, this blood is easily transferred to the examining finger. When this same finger has been placed in the rectum with a subsequent test for


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