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HAND WASHING

Over a century has passed since Ignaz P. Semmelweis demonstrated the association between hand hygiene and nosocomial infections, but this simple procedure is still not recognized by many healthcare workers as one of the most important measures to prevent cross-transmission of microorganisms. A relatively large amount of research has been done, in particular to try to understand why compliance remains so low in order to implement successful promotion campaigns. This research has generated a fair amount of strong scientific data which are sometimes misunderstood and misused because of myths or certain beliefs.

Observational or intervention studies have consistently shown a number of risk factors associated with noncompliance, such as high workload, professional category, or type of ward. Others are thought to be barriers to adequate compliance but have not yet been properly assessed. These include skin irritation due to hand hygiene agents, lack of knowledge of hand hygiene recommendations, or lack of institutional policy. Future interventions to promote hand hygiene will need to address these risk factors, and target the individual healthcare worker, as well as the group or institution if a significant degree of success is to be achieved.

June 1st, 2013
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About the Author: Gabe Mirkin, MD

Sports medicine doctor, fitness guru and long-time radio host Gabe Mirkin, M.D., brings you news and tips for your healthful lifestyle. A practicing physician for more than 50 years and a radio talk show host for 25 years, Dr. Mirkin is a graduate of Harvard University and Baylor University College of Medicine. He is board-certified in four specialties: Sports Medicine, Allergy and Immunology, Pediatrics and Pediatric Immunology. The Dr. Mirkin Show, his call-in show on fitness and health, was syndicated in more than 120 cities. Read More
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