In this section
Definition of terms
Key principles for inpatient management of patients with a known latex allergy
Prevention and Management of exposure to latex
Considerations for individual clinical areas
allergy is an immune mediated reaction to either the latex protein or chemicals
used in the processing. Frequent exposure to latex may lead to the development
of a latex allergy. A person is considered to have a latex allergy if there is
a history of adverse reactions following contact with latex or latex containing
products. Common reactions include swelling of the lips and tongue after
blowing up a balloon, or rash and swelling after contact with latex gloves etc.
The diagnosis may be made in absence of formal allergy testing.
reaction thresholds in the allergic patient can vary. Some patients will
tolerate latex skin contact, while others may have anaphylaxis to the residual
latex powder in a ward. This means that while for some patients these
guidelines are excessively cautious, they may not prevent serious reactions in
The Royal Children's Hospital all efforts are made to eliminate latex
containing equipment, consumables and products.
The aim of this guideline is to provide all staff at The Royal Children's Hospital with appropriate knowledge and skills to identify and manage patients who have a known latex allergy or those at risk of developing latex allergy.This guideline is related to the management of patients. For further information regarding staff management please refer to the policy Latex Risk Management for Staff.
Screening for latex allergic/latex alert patients should occur:
Patients with a known latex allergy or a latex alert (high risk) should have this documented in the Allergies section of the EMR.
Patients with latex allergy will be identified by Medical, Nursing, and Allied health teams via EPIC allergy alert. All other relevant staff are notified at a ward level.
Allergy list is visible to menu monitors and supervisors who are responsible for ensuring safe and appropriate meals are provided to patients. Main kitchen is latex free.
The following staff should also be informed prior to having contact with the patient:
Ensure all relevant staff are aware of patients with a known latex allergy prior to transferring or transporting them to another clinical department (i.e. theatre, medical imaging)
Further detail is provided by the Australian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy. The most effective prevention strategy is to avoid exposure to latex. Patients with a known history of reactions to latex products will be placed on latex allergy precautions and should be managed in a latex safe environment as outlined below.(1)
latex allergy precautions include:
Staff should be prepared to manage an acute allergic reaction, more information can be found on the Anaphylaxis Guideline.
It is recommended all resuscitation equipment should be latex-free. All resuscitation trolleys should routinely have latex-free non-sterile and sterile gloves, circuits, masks, catheter mounts and oral airways.(1)
In addition to the above latex management/prevention precautions consider the following recommendations specific to some individual clinical areas at RCH including:
It is recommended latex allergic and latex alert patients who present to the RCH Emergency department notify staff as soon as possible. The RCH Emergency Department utilize latex free products where available (latex free list). The patient should also have their latex allergy/latex alert recorded on the Emergency department alert EPIC/EMR alert?
NB: Powdered latex gloves are not used at RCH. However it is recommended that if powdered latex gloves were used that the operating room is cleaned and free of powdered latex gloves for at least 3 hours. (1, 2)
Latex allergic/latex alert patients who attend outpatient areas (e.g. clinics, pathology and medical imaging) should be managed in an area that has been prepared according to the immediate latex prevention/management precautions.
It is recommended that any patients referred to Wallaby have it well documented on the referral form that they are allergic to latex. Staff must also carry and utilise latex free equipment when managing patients with a known latex allergy/latex; and also alert any subsequent community supports according to the immediate latex prevention/management precautions
A patient's latex allergy status should be clearly identified and documented on the patient banner in the EMR.
ASCIA - Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy
1. Australian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy (2010) Guidelines for the management of latex-allergic individuals in health care facilities and for the minimisation of continuing latex sensitisation.2. Australian College of Perioperative Nurses LTD(ACORN). Standards for Perioperative Nursing in Australia 16th ed: Volume 1-Clinical Standards. Adelaide, South Australia: ACORN; 2020. 3. Young, M.A and Myers, M. (1997) Latex allergy: considerations of the care of paediatric patients and employee safety. Nursing Clinics of North America p: 169-82.4. Department of Health New South Wales (2005) Latex Allergy- policy frame work and guidelines for prevention and management.
Management of a patient at risk of or with a known latex allergy evidence table
Please remember to read the disclaimer.
revision of this nursing guideline was coordinated by Debra Poole and Lilly Healey, Nurse Consultants, Allergy & Immunology,
and approved by the Nursing Clinical Effectiveness Committee. Updated February 2021.