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Handwashing machines, handwashing compliance, and potential for cross-contamination

Handwashing machines, handwashing compliance, and potential for cross-contamination

American Journal Of Infection Control. 22(4): 228-230

Although handwashing is considered an important factor in the prevention of nosocomial infections, the optimal technique has not been determined and compliance is often difficult to obtain. Handwashing compliance is particularly important in intensive care areas of the hospital. In an effort to improve HW compliance, the surgical intensive care unit in our hospital purchased three handwashing machines. Four months after installation of the handwashing machines, an outbreak of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus occurred in the intensive care unit. As part of evaluating the outbreak, we cultured the handwashing machines, including the portholes and the paper towel dispenser. Cultures were positive for methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus epidermidis, Achromobacter species, and Streptococcus viridans. The design of the handwashing machines made contamination of sleeves and already-washed hands possible. An observational study revealed that handwashing compliance was poor but improved from 22% to 38% when the handwashing machines were in use. Nurses preferred handwashing at the sink and physicians preferred the handwashing machine. Handwashing machines may increase handwashing compliance because of their novelty, but they may also result in novel problems.

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Accession: 008756590

Download citation: RISBibTeXText

PMID: 7985823

DOI: 10.1016/0196-6553(94)99001-8

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