Occupational reaction to natural rubber latex experienced by healthcare employees was examined using data of all workers' compensation claims filed by state-insured healthcare employees in Washington State for the period 1991-1999 (n = 65,703). As latex reaction is not a condition for which there are specific identification codes, these claims were estimated by coupling source and nature of injury records that were consistent with reactions to latex. It was found that the claim rate was on average 2.66 per 10,000 state-insured healthcare workers annually. The most common condition experienced was dermal (84.3%), and most common body part affected was the hand (70.0%). Because few claims cited respiratory or conjunctivitis as reaction experienced, little evidence was discovered to support that glove powder acted as a widespread latex allergen transmitter in healthcare environments. Most cases did not require indemnity payment for lost work time (81.2%), suggesting most reactions were minor. The average cost per natural rubber latex claim was $2,759.10, compared to $3,178.18 for the average healthcare worker claim for all causes. Overall, the average cost per state-insured healthcare worker employed during this time was under $0.74 per year. Nursing aides/orderlies were the most frequent healthcare occupation filing a claim (33.2%). The majority of claimants were female (87.9%), and unmarried workers (52.0%) filed slightly more claims than married workers (48.0%). In comparison with other workers' compensation claims filed by healthcare workers during this period, 0.34 percent of the total was potentially related to natural rubber latex, with other common healthcare workplace items cited more frequently as source of occupational injury.
- Latex allergy
- Workers' compensation