Study Shows Healthcare Workers Not Cleaning Their Hands Between Tasks

F.J. Thomas

Sarasota, FL ( – The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) issued a news release stating that healthcare workers are not washing their hands as often as they should, increasing the risk for potential infection of patients and workers, according to new data that will be presented at the European Congress of Clinical Microbiology & Infectious Diseases (ECCMID).

The study reviewed ICU healthcare worker data from Intervention to Reduce Transmission of Resistant Bacteria in Intensive Care, which included 3,246 hours of patient care at 18 facilities from 2005 to 2006. The focus of the 2005 study was to determine if barrier use was effective in the prevention of MSRA and VRE infections. The study concluded that the use of gloves and protective gear by providers was less than required and, as a result, ineffective.

The recent review of the 2005 study identified the sequence of tasks during patient care and compared them to hand hygiene regulations, CDC/HICPAC Guideline for Hand Hygiene in Health-Care Settings.

The results clearly showed that healthcare workers were not as compliant as they should have been. Two-thirds of the tasks sequences were moving from dirtier to cleaner tasks, and only one-third involved cleaner to dirtier tasks. Wearing gloves seemed to be a contributor to less compliance. Additionally, proper hand hygiene was used in only half of the dirty-to-clean tasks, and only around 43 percent in clean-to-dirty tasks.

The study further concluded that physicians were 50 percent more likely than nurses to move from dirtier to cleaner tasks. Other healthcare workers, such respiratory therapists and technicians were twice as likely to perform the dirtier tasks first.

According to the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (ODPHP) 1 in 25 patients develops an infection related to the care they have received. This accounts for approximately 722,000 infections a year, of which 75,000 are fatal. In 2016, the ODPHP announced target metrics for improvement of care-related infections and used 2015 data as a baseline. For the different types of infections, 2016 improvements ranged from 6 to 10 percent with expectation of 50 percent improvement by 2020.

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