Nurses lead the way in hand hygiene

20th of September 2013
Nurses lead the way in hand hygiene

Nurses are leading doctors when it comes to hand hygiene in hospitals, according to researchers.

Professor Mary-Louise McLaws, who helped draft The World Health Organisation's Hand Hygiene Guidelines launched in 2009, said nurses have the highest compliance rates internationally at 71 per cent before intervention and also after the introduction of hand hygiene practices.

The study, which assessed the effect of the WHO strategy for improving hand hygiene focused on 55 departments in 43 hospitals across five countries, including Costa Rica, Italy, Mali, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.

Professor McLaws, from the School of Public Health and Community Medicine, said previous research revealed nurses are quicker to follow an organisation's request to comply with new practices.

"They may well speak as an individual but they will come together as a group," she said.

"Doctors will talk about it as an individual and talk amongst their peers and then assume that rules or new practices don't apply to them because they are very individual."

Professor McLaws said the hand hygiene programme, featuring an alcohol-based hand rub, had proven a major success with nurses.

"It's quite remarkable. Just finding the time with a little bit of effort and having the resources you can actually persuade nurses to come on board with a really easy programme that reduces infections," she said.

Professor McLaws applauded nurses for the results but also suggested they could further cut infection rates by focusing on the first moment of the five moment hand hygiene process.

"If I was to ask them to get 100 per cent compliance it would be before they touch a patient at moment one... when they are thinking about having to carry out a clinical procedure or make a patient comfortable," she said.

"The five moment process can be difficult and burdensome; we can't pretend it's not. While our nurses are doing really well they should remember to do moment one perfectly.

"Let's hope the nurses and their behaviours will assist the medical profession," she said.


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