Phillips VL. Goodrich MA. Sullivan TJ., Health care worker disability due to latex allergy and asthma: a cost analysis. American Journal of Public Health. 1999;89(7):1024-8.
The reported prevalence of occupational allergy to natural rubber latex is 8% to 17%, and that of latex-induced occupational asthma is 2.5% to 6%. Conversion of medical facilities to "latex-safe" can reduce employee sensitization, impairment, and disability. The purpose of this study was to determine the cost of a latex-safe approach, compared with that of continued latex glove use, and to identify the level of worker disability required to make the latex-safe approach financially preferable to a health care institution. The authors calculated the costs of 2 strategies, a latex-safe vs the status quo, from the perspective of 3 health care institutions. A break-even point was calculated for each facility. The authors found that in all facilities, the cost of using nonlatex gloves exceeded the cost of using latex gloves. In all 3 facilities, however, 1% or fewer of those at risk would have to become fully disabled or fewer than 2% would have to become partially disabled for the continued use of latex gloves to exceed the cost of the latex-safe approach. The authors conclude that health care facilities, regardless of size, are likely to benefit financially from becoming latex-safe even if latex-related disability levels are extremely low.