Doctors in some countries don’t wash their hands properly 40% of the time: study

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August 30, 2013

The World Health Organization said that medical professionals in hospitals in five countries didn’t always wash their hands effectively, thus failing to prevent the spread of infections to patients and other staff members.

August 30, 2013

The World Health Organization said that medical professionals in hospitals in five countries didn’t always wash their hands effectively, thus failing to prevent the spread of infections to patients and other staff members.

WHO's Clean Care is Safer Care program was established to educate doctors and nurses on correct hand-hygiene practices, which can reduce the risk and spread of infections.

A study from the World Health Organization (WHO) found that doctors in several countries don't wash their hands the right way 40% of the time, according to UPI.

Nurses at the 43 hospitals across Costa Rica, Mali, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Italy that were reviewed had the highest compliance rates at 71%, WHO said.

The study, which took place from 2006 to 2008, was related to; WHO's Clean Care is Safer Care program. The organization has set out to teach medical professionals about proper hand hygiene in order to reduce the risk of infection and help prevent the spread of drug-resistant bacteria and viruses.

WHO says doctors and nurses should use alcohol-based rub or soap and water on their hands at five key moments: before touching a patient, before aseptic or sterile procedures, after they come into contact with bodily fluids, after touching a patient and after touching a patient's surroundings.

Many infections related to hospital visits occur when germs are transferred from doctors' or nurses' hands to the patient, UPI reported. Common problems that develop this way include urinary tract, surgical site and bloodstream infections as well as pneumonia.

According to WHO, at least 10 of every 100 patients in developing countries — seven in developed ones — will acquire some kind of health care-related infection. Sometimes that figure can rise to 30% when dealing with critically ill and vulnerable patients in intensive care units.

"The best way of reducing the number of people contracting antimicrobial resistant infections is to protect them from cross-transmission of germs through health-care workers' hands in the first place," Edward Kelley, the coordinator of WHO's patient safety program, said in a release.

Researchers found that doctors' and nurses' overall compliance with hand-washing best practices jumped from 51% before the study to 67% after it.


The findings were recently published in "Lancet Infectious Diseases."