Many doctors 'don't want hand washing reminders'

24th of September 2012
Many doctors 'don't want hand washing reminders'

Many doctors and nurses don't like the idea of patients reminding them to clean their hands, a new study from Switzerland suggests.

Hand hygiene has become a major goal of healthcare facilities around the world, and patients are often encouraged to become involved in system-wide changes to promote hand washing, researchers said.

"Hand hygiene is the primary measure to prevent infections and cross-transmission (of bacteria and viruses) at the point of care," said Dr Didier Pittet, the senior researcher on the new study from the University of Geneva Hospitals and Faculty of Medicine.

The findings shouldn't discourage patients from bringing up the topic, he added.

"Patients should know and ideally should remind their healthcare workers about the importance of hand hygiene, especially right before they are going to touch them," said Pittet, who also leads a hand hygiene campaign at the World Health Organisation.

For the new study surveys were sent to 700 doctors and nurses at the University of Geneva Hospitals - 227 of them responded.

Just under a third of the healthcare workers said they didn't like the idea of being reminded to wash their hands by patients, because they thought it could be upsetting or humiliating. And 37 per cent said they wouldn't consent to wearing a badge encouraging patients to ask them about hand hygiene.

However, most of them did agree that patients can play a role in preventing infections transmitted in the hospital.



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