Clinical and Financial Risks and Implications of Latex Allergy in Critical Care Settings
Allergy to natural rubber latex is a growing concern for both healthcare workers and patients.1 Latex is composed of a variety of potentially irritating proteins and is used in many healthcare products, including gloves and catheters.2,3 Sensitivity to natural rubber latex affects an estimated 17% of healthcare workers and repeated exposure may increase this affliction.2 In rare cases, undetected latex allergies can be fatal, with a 1% lethality occurring due to immediate Type I systemic reaction anaphylaxis,which can cause shock and permanent lung injury.4
In addition to the clinical implications, significant litigation costs and compensation for patient injury places an added burden on healthcare workers to recognize and eliminate the source of latex allergy wherever possible.
A recent study of anti-latex IgE antibodies in blood donors has shown that the prevalence of latex sensitivity may be as high as 6–12% or up to 37 million people in the United States.5,6 Once sensitized, most individuals are asymptomatic and unaware of their antibody status; therefore, clinicians cannot assume that any patient is free of latex allergy.5,7
Healthcare workers must be vigilant with latex products since a patient’s medical history alone is inadequate to identify all patients at risk.8 Points of entry also occur through dermal contact (irritant contact dermatitis) and inhalation (latex glove powder).3 A partial list of products that may contain latex are inlcuded in Table 1.
In recent decades, increasing clinical attention to the risks associated with the use of latex products has resulted in latex-free rooms in hospitals.3 This effort is not an adequate solution and will not eliminate the problem until latex products are completely removed from clinical settings.
The implementation of completely latex-free clinical environments may not be possible until the financial impact on the responsible parties is reduced. Consequently, all clinicians should safeguard their patients by avoiding use of all-latex products whenever possible, including pulmonary artery catheters with non-latex balloons.
Providing Hospitals with Latex Free Options for Clinical Peace of Mind
We are dedicated to increasing clinical awareness of the potential risks of latex products, and as a result, we provide clinicians with a full line of pulmonary artery catheters and central venous catheters offered with no natural rubber latex components.
Our extensive portfolio of critical care catheters with no natural rubber latex components covers the full spectrum of patient acuity without compromising performance.
- Walling, A. American Family Physician. August 1999; Vol. 6/No. 2. [Online]: http://www.aafp.org/afp/1999/0801/p616.html.
- Katz J, Holzman R, Brown R, et al. Natural rubber latex allergy: consideration for anesthesiologists. Park Ridge, IL: American Society of Anesthesiologists, 2005: 1–30.
- Potential for sensitization and possible allergic reaction to natural rubber latex gloves and other natural rubber products. Safety and Health Information Bulletin. SHIB 01-28-2008.
- Flabbee J, et al. The economic costs of severe anaphylaxis in France: an inquiry carried out by the Allergy Vigilance Network. Allergy. 2008 Mar; 63(3):360-5.
- Lebenbom-Mansour MH, Oesterle JR, Ownby DR, et al. The incidence of latex sensitivity in ambulatory surgical patients: a correlation of historical factors with positive serum immunoglobulin E levels. Anesth Analg 1997; 85:44-9.
- CIA Fact Book. Central Intelligence Agency. [Online]: https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/print/us.htm.
- Page EH, Esswein EJ. NIOSH health hazard evaluation report. HETA 98-0096-2737 Exempla St. Joseph Hospital. Cincinnati, OH: National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health 1198:1-25.
- Slater JE. Allergic reactions to natural rubber. Ann Allergy, 1992 Mar; 68(3):203-9