An educational program can help health care workers stick to hand hygiene guidelines, according to an Irish researcher. Using a questionnaire, she assessed the hand hygiene practices of 314 direct patient caregivers: nurses, physicians, physiotherapists, and care assistants. She then initiated a hand hygiene program that included a poster campaign, educational handout, feedback on prestudy hand hygiene observations, and installation of an alcohol-based hand rub dispenser at each bedside.
After 6 weeks, study subjects' adherence to hand hygiene guidelines had improved from 51% to 83%. Physicians, whose adherence improved from 31% to 55%, made the smallest improvement.
To improve compliance with guidelines, the researcher recommends a multifaceted approach that includes easy access to alcohol-based hand rubs with emollients-skin irritation is a big reason caregivers shy away from frequent hand hygiene.
Healthcare workers' hand decontamination practices: Compliance with recommended guidelines, Journal of Advanced Nursing, SA Creedon, August 2005.