Doctors Don’t Wash Their Hands 40 Percent Of The Time, Says Study

A new study reported that doctors in several countries do not wash their hands properly 40 percent of the time according to World Health Organization officials in Switzerland.

According to United Press International, Nurses had the highest compliance rates at 71 percent across all sites — at 43 hospitals in Costa Rica, Italy, Mali, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia — before the intervention and after the intervention.

“The intervention, the WHO Clean Care is Safer Care Program, explains to doctors, nurses and all those working with patients that hand hygiene should be performed at five key moments, preferably by using an alcohol-based rub or by hand washing with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.”

What are the five key moments in which health care providers should be washing their hands?

Before touching a patient.
Before clean and aseptic procedures such as inserting devices into the body such as catheters.
After contact with body fluids.
After touching a patient.
After touching patient surroundings.

Didier Pittet, the study’s senior author and director of the WHO Collaborating Center on Patient Safety, University of Geneva Hospitals, said in a statement:

“WHO’s hand hygiene improvement strategy is recommended by both the U.S. and European Centers for Disease Control, the Joint Commission International and accredited bodies, and almost all professional organizations worldwide.”

What has sparked this intervention? According to the United Press International report, Healthcare-associated and hospital-acquired infections usually occur when germs are transferred by healthcare providers’ hands touching the patient.

“The most common infections are urinary tract and surgical site infections, pneumonia and infections of the bloodstream. They are often caused by multi-drug resistant germs.”

The report continues on to say, “Of every 100 hospitalized patients, at least seven in developed and 10 in developing countries will acquire a healthcare-associated infection.

“However, among critically ill and vulnerable patients in intensive care units, that figure rises to about 30 per 100.”

Practicing good hand hygiene, such as doctors washing their hands during healthcare reduces the risk of these infections and the spread of antimicrobial resistance, the study said.

[Image via Shutterstock/Gang Liu]