Hand hygiene lacking in emergency room corridors

24th of October 2011
Hand hygiene lacking in emergency room corridors

Emergency patients receiving treatment on trolleys or chairs in corridors are at greater risk of contamination from the hands of hospital staff, a new study has shown.

The study revealed that healthcare professionals are far less likely to wash their hands - an essential element of infection control - when the patient is not actually in a hospital treatment room or ward.

The US study, which tracked nearly 6,000 emergency room patients, revealed a generally high level of hand hygiene standards among healthcare professionals.

"However, we found that receiving care in a hallway bed was the strongest predictor of your healthcare providers not washing their hands," said lead researcher Dr Arjun Venkatesh.

The study also found that a number of healthcare professionals opted to wear gloves while treating patients rather than wash their hands. However, in terms of infection control this is acknowledged to be a poor substitute.

The researchers also discovered that healthcare staff whose role was to move patients between departments and wards were less likely to wash their hands than their colleagues.

"With emergency departments serving as a frequent interface between the public and patients with communicable diseases, we have to build systems that ensure the highest standards of hand washing and infection control to ensure the safest care for all patients," said Dr Jeremiah Schuur, director for quality, safety and performance improvement at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston.



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