Hand hygiene is perhaps the single most important and effective measure to prevent nosocomial infections and antimicrobial resistance in hospital settings. It is a general term that refers to either handwashing, antiseptic handwash, antiseptic handrub, or surgical hand antisepsis. Despite substantial evidence that it reduces the incidence of infections, adherence to hand hygiene by health-care workers’ remains low at an average of 40 %. Contributing factors are dryness and irritation caused by handwashing agents, inconveniently located sinks, lack of soap and paper towels, lack of time, understaffing and overcrowding, and the patient needs taking priority. Thus, easy, timely access to both hand hygiene and skin protection is necessary for satisfactory hand hygiene behavior. Alcohol-based hand rubs may be better than traditional handwashing as they require less time, act faster, are less irritating and contribute to sustained improvement in compliance associated with decreased infection rates. All institutions should prioritize improving hand hygiene by providing appropriate administrative support and financial resources to this end. Strategies that are both multimodal and multidisciplinary should be utilized to improve compliance.
Sources: Pittet D. Improving Adherence to hand Hygiene Practice: A Multidisciplinary Approach. Emerging Infectious Diseases, Vol. 7 No. 2, March-April 2001, pp.240. Guideline for Hand Hygiene in Health Care Settings. MMWR 2002; vol. 51 no. RR16: 1-44.