latest health care news

04.05.12

Clean hands campaign cuts infection rates

The national rollout of the Cleanyourhands campaign has been successful, research published on bmj.com suggests. Procurement of alcohol hand rub and soap increased and infections dropped dramatically.

The campaign started in 2005, aimed at all trusts in England and Wales, to reduce high levels of Staphylococcus aureus infection – meticillin resistant (MRSA) and meticillin sensitive (MSSA) – and Clostridium difficile infection, which spread through contamination of healthcare workers hands.

Alcohol hand rub was required at each hospital bedside, posters were distributed and regular audits and feedback ensured health professionals washed their hands regularly.

Researchers from the Royal Free campus,UniversityCollegeLondonMedicalSchooland the Health Protection Agency evaluated the impact of the campaign through the rates of hospital procurement of soap and hand rub and the association with infection rates.

Results show that combined procurement of soap and alcohol hand rub tripled from 21.8 to 59.8 mL per patient bed day. MRSA infections fell from 1.88 to 0.91 cases per 10,000 bed days over the study period, while C difficile infections fell from 16.75 to 9.49 cases.

The authors write: “The study suggests that national infection control interventions, including a hand hygiene campaign, undertaken in the context of a high profile political drive, can successfully reduce selected healthcare associated infections.”

Dr Sheldon Paul Stone, senior lecturer atUCLMedicalSchool, who led the study, told the Independent: “Without a doubt, lives were saved by the campaign. I would say 10,000 lives over the four year period of the study was a reasonable estimate.”

He called for the campaign to be continued, with a new focus on staff who use gloves, who deal with the most infectious patients but are much less likely to use soap.

Tell us what you think – have your say below, or email us directly at opinion@nationalhealthexecutive.com

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