Dispenser cleaning helps hospitals cut OR contamination by 75%

Giving healthcare workers their own hand gel and keeping hand sanitizer dispensers clean can significantly improve operating room cleanliness, according to two new studies from the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA).

Regularly cleaning sanitizer gel dispensers reduces their contamination by 75 percent, while healthcare workers who carried personal bottles of sanitizer were nearly 30 percent more likely to use it, according to the ASA.

The dispenser study analyzed bacteria on frequently-touched surfaces at two hospitals, with the researchers taking samples at four-hour intervals throughout the work day. At the first hospital, all dispensers were wiped down with germicidal wipes after each discharge, while the second hospital did not perform any disinfection. By the end of the day, the number of bacterial units on the dispensers at the first hospital had risen from one to 23, compared to an increase of one to 93 at the second hospital.

"The hand sanitizer is touched to sanitize a presumably unsanitary hand and is therefore uniquely vulnerable to contamination," Devon C. Cole, M.D., of the department of anesthesiology at the University of Florida, Gainesville, said in the ASA announcement. "It just made sense to measure the bacteria on the dispenser handles of these containers."

In the second study, fellows, attending physicians, nurses and residents received a personal sanitizer dispenser while researchers observed their compliance. Before being given the dispensers, compliance pre- and post-patient contact was 23 percent and 43 percent respectively. After workers had their own gel, compliance increased to 53 percent and 72 percent, respectively.

"This study shows that a simple intervention in which a personal antibacterial hand gel dispenser is readily available, works better for a busy healthcare provider's workflow pattern, presumably leading to decreased patient and surrounding-care-area contamination," Colby L. Parks, M.D., of the department of anesthesia at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, said, according to the ASA statement.

Hospitals recently have cracked down on hand-hygiene violations, from awareness campaigns to technology that monitors non-compliance, FierceHealthcare previously reported.

To learn more:
- read the ASA statement