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Emergency Medical Minute


Jul 21, 2020

Contributor: Michael Hunt, MD

Educational Pearls:

  • PPE, or personal protective equipment, has become a major talking point since the emergence of the novel coronavirus (COVID 19).
  • While ubiquitous now, there was not always equipment to protect health care providers or patients from infectious exposures.
  • The invention of  surgical gloves are credited to surgeon William Halsted. He developed gloves because one of his assistants (and later wife), Carol Hampton, was having severe irritation due to a caustic pre-op disinfecting process. They developed the rubber glove for Hampton which garnered popularity, and by the early 20th century, half of surgeons were using rubber gloves.
  • Surgical masks came around during the same period as gloves. By 1919 about half of all surgeons were using masks, protecting themselves and their patients from infectious transmissions.
  • The simple advent of masks and gloves led to incredible reductions in morbidity and mortality in surgical cases. Now these simple barriers are key in the prevention of further transmitting of COVID-19.


1. Kean, Sam. “Glove at First Sight.”, 27 Apr. 2020,

Summarized by Jackson Roos, MS4 | Edited by Erik Verzemnieks, MD