Patient location, gloves, worker type predict hand hygiene compliance

Patients who receive care in a hallway bed are the most likely victims of healthcare workers not washing their hands, according to researchers from Boston's Brigham and Women's Hospital in a study to be published in the November Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology.

In the largest hand hygiene study with more than 5,800 patient encounters in the emergency department (ED), researchers found that bed location, the type of healthcare worker providing the care, and whether the provider used gloves all were predictors of poor hand hygiene in the ED.

"We found that receiving care in a hallway bed was the strongest predictor of your healthcare providers not washing their hands," said study author Dr. Arjun Venkatesh, an emergency medicine resident at Brigham and Women's Hospital, in a Society of Healthcare Epidemiology of America press release yesterday.

In addition, researchers found that workers transporting patients were less likely to wash their hands because they likely do not receive as much hand hygiene training as others, according to the press release. They also said that providers using gloves was not a substitute for handwashing in controlling infections.

However, in most cases (90 percent of time), ED workers do wash their hands.

Handwashing could save up to $33 billion, according to a UPI article. In a Health Affairs study, infection control interventions such as handwashing resulted in patients leaving two days earlier and reduced mortality rates by 2 percentage points. Hospital costs also were $12,000 less, according to the article.

For more information:
- read the press release
- here's the study abstract
- read the UPI article

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