Only one-fifth of healthcare workers can recall five hand-washing guidelines

22nd of May 2019
Only one-fifth of healthcare workers can recall five hand-washing guidelines

Compliance with the World Health Organisation's "Five Moments for Hand Hygiene" approach among healthcare workers is poor, according to a study published in the American Journal of Infection Control.

When observed by researchers, staff were only seen to practice hand hygiene at the prescribed times around 35 per cent the time.

And of the 218 staff members questioned in the US study, only 29 per cent were familiar with the WHO's five hand hygiene moments - while only 21 per cent were able to recall all five.

Researchers used a modified version of the WHO hand hygiene observation form to examine compliance with the organisation's Five Moments for Hand Hygiene. Introduced in 2009 to reduce the burden of healthcare-associated infections, these state that staff should wash their hands before touching a patient, before carrying out any aseptic procedure, after any exposure to body fluid, after touching a patient and after touching the patient's surroundings.

The study authors also used a 26-question survey to gather healthcare workers' knowledge and opinions on hand hygiene.

Researchers observed that given 302 hand hygiene opportunities in 104 healthcare worker-patient interactions, staff only performed hand hygiene on 106 of those occasions - around 35 per cent.

When asked about the importance of each of the five moments, 46 per cent of participants ranked "before aseptic procedure" as the most important hand hygiene moment while 86 per cent identified "after touching patient surroundings" as the least important. WHO considers all five elements in the list to be "key moments" for hand hygiene and does not rank them.


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