Hand Sanitizers Increase Handwashing Among HealthcareWorkers

April 30, 2001
Healthcare workers are more likely to sanitize their hands when an alcohol-based hand sanitizing gel was made\r\navailable, according to a study published in the March issue of the American Journal of Nursing.

A study published in the March issue of the American Journal of Nursing shows that healthcare workers are more likely to sanitize their hands when an alcohol-based hand sanitizing gel was made available to them as an alternative to soap and water.

Handwashing, or hand antisepsis, rates increased by nearly 44 percent when the healthcare workers had access to the sanitizer. Overall, the hand sanitizer was used in approximately 60 percent of handwashing episodes.

The three-phase observational study was conducted over a five-month period in two intensive care units at the University of California, San Diego, Medical Center.

Before the hand sanitizing gel was introduced, workers were observed washing their hands in 40 percent of patient contact situations. Compliance rates rose to 52 percent six weeks after the hand sanitizing gel was made available. Compliance rates increased to 57 percent ten weeks after the hand sanitizer was installed.

The study also demonstrated that hand sanitizer dispensers mounted in the hallways outside of patient rooms were nearly 30 times more likely to be used than the dispensers mounted anywhere inside the rooms.

According to the study''s authors, the study "attempted to address each of the often-cited explanations given for noncompliance with published guidelines and individual hospital policy: inconvenience, lack of time and the drying effects of repeated use of soap and water on the skin. Gel dispensers were installed at convenient locations throughout the two units under study, and using the gel required less time than did soap and water."

by Melissa Martin

About the Author

EHS Today Staff

EHS Today's editorial staff includes:

Dave Blanchard, Editor-in-Chief: During his career Dave has led the editorial management of many of Endeavor Business Media's best-known brands, including IndustryWeekEHS Today, Material Handling & LogisticsLogistics Today, Supply Chain Technology News, and Business Finance. In addition, he serves as senior content director of the annual Safety Leadership Conference. With over 30 years of B2B media experience, Dave literally wrote the book on supply chain management, Supply Chain Management Best Practices (John Wiley & Sons, 2021), which has been translated into several languages and is currently in its third edition. He is a frequent speaker and moderator at major trade shows and conferences, and has won numerous awards for writing and editing. He is a voting member of the jury of the Logistics Hall of Fame, and is a graduate of Northern Illinois University.

Adrienne Selko, Senior Editor: In addition to her roles with EHS Today and the Safety Leadership Conference, Adrienne is also a senior editor at IndustryWeek and has written about many topics, with her current focus on workforce development strategies. She is also a senior editor at Material Handling & Logistics. Previously she was in corporate communications at a medical manufacturing company as well as a large regional bank. She is the author of Do I Have to Wear Garlic Around My Neck?, which made the Cleveland Plain Dealer's best sellers list.

Nicole Stempak, Managing Editor:  Nicole Stempak is managing editor of EHS Today and conference content manager of the Safety Leadership Conference.

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