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Dirty Gloves

Editor’s note: What’s in your box of medical gloves?

Nov. 19, 2021
Used medical gloves! What? Recent events should make you want to check that glove purchase more closely. Hopefully you won't be surprised by what you find.

Sounds like a simple question, right? Gloves are in the box, of course. But what quality are the gloves that lay tangled up in that box? With personal protective equipment a very hot commodity during the last 18 months, US officials warn that some gloves may be less than desirable.

CNN recently reported that a Miami-based company run by Tarek Kirschen received more than $2 million worth of gloves from a Thai company called Paddy the Room. Kirschen then sold the gloves to a US distributor. Calls soon began coming in from people claiming the gloves were used. They seemed to have been washed and dried, yet some of them were still dirty and even blood stained. Some boxes contained gloves that seemed wet. “Some of them had marks on them with dates from two years ago,” Kirschen said. “I couldn’t believe my eyes.”

Kirschen claims he got the gloves back from the distributor and they were disposed of in a landfill. He said he alerted the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The problem is, he’s not the only one who received gloves from Paddy the Room. US Liberty LLC had a similar experience. They claim that gloves with holes, stains, rips, and in different shades and colors were in their shipment. With the pandemic, supply and demand have led some people to become creative when it comes to extra PPE, especially gloves.

Another company, AirQueen, ordered $2.7 million in nitrile gloves from Paddy the Room through a third party. Once in Los Angeles, the gloves were independently inspected, and most of them weren’t even nitrile; they were a low grade latex and vinyl. They were also soiled and obviously second hand. The next shipment to AirQueen was seized by federal authorities, who are conducting a criminal investigation into Paddy the Room.

The rules were relaxed

During the pandemic, the FDA relaxed import regulations due to high demand, making it easier to encounter flaws. During a raid by the Thai FDA, Paddy the Room workers were found stuffing old gloves into new boxes said to be counterfeit from a reputable company.

Since February, Paddy the Room has shipped containers with more than 80 million gloves into the US. In August, the FDA finally sent out an alert to port staff that shipments from Paddy the Room are subject to detention and are to be held until inspection. This alert was sent out five full months after AirQueen and US Liberty alerted them of a huge problem. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) claims there is an ongoing investigation into the company.

It seems unreal to me that something like this can happen today. I recommend that you purchase your gloves from a reputable distributor and if you suspect anything is wrong, don’t hesitate to speak up. There is no excuse for something like this to happen!

This article originally appeared in Dental Assisting Digest newsletter. To subscribe, visit dentisryiq.com/subscribe.