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Medical students have poor hand hygiene21st of December 2011
New research from Germany has shown that two-thirds of medical students were unable to identify correctly clinical situations in which they should wash their hands.
They also falsely believed their own hand hygiene was better than that of nursing colleagues, said the study published in the American Journal of Infection Control.
Researchers from Hannover Medical School asked 85 third-year medical students to complete a survey in which they had to consider seven given clinical scenarios, and state whether hand washing was required in each. These included five ‘true' indications for hand washing - before contact with a patient, before preparation of intravenous fluids, after removal of gloves, after contact with the patient's bed, and after contact with vomit - as well as two false.
Only 33 per cent of the students could correctly identify all five indications for hand washing, and only 21 per cent identified these as well as the false indications.
In spite of this, the students said they would describe their compliance with hand hygiene guidelines as 'good', and better than that of nurses.
The Hannover students also believed physicians' degree of compliance with good hand hygiene practice was inversely proportional to their level of training and career attainment - in other words, poorest among those most likely to be training students.