Alcohol Rub Makes for Better Hospital Hand Hygiene
Wed May 15, 5:45 PM ET

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Swiss researchers report that staff of intensive care units (ICUs) were more likely to stick to recommended hand hygiene standards when they went through an educational campaign and were supplied with individual bottles of alcohol-based hand-rub.

Dr. Didier Pittet from the University of Geneva Hospitals in Switzerland and colleagues conducted seven observational surveys to determine the program's effect on hand hygiene compliance. The research team observed hand-washing procedures among healthcare workers in the medical, surgical and pediatric ICUs, before and after the hospital intervention program.

During 2,743 opportunities for hand hygiene over 248 observation periods, compliance increased from 38.4% to 54.5% after the program, the investigators found. While hand-washing remained at about 30%, hand-rubbing increased from 5.4% to 21.7%, they note.

The increase in compliance was seen among nurses and nursing assistants, but did not change among physicians, Pittet's group notes in their report in the May 13th issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine (news - web sites).

"Increased recourse to an alcohol-based hand-rub solution induced a marked and sustained improvement in compliance with hand hygiene recommendations among ICU staff," Pittet and colleagues conclude.

"Hand-rubbing is an alternative to standard hand-washing, is less time consuming, and is at least as efficient," they add.

SOURCE: Archives of Internal Medicine 2002;162:1037-1043.