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Researchers discover poor hand hygiene among health care workers

November 16, 2011

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Chicago – Health care workers who wear gloves while treating patients are less likely to wash their hands before and after contact with patients, according to research from the Royal Free Hospital NHS Trust in London.

Researchers observed more than 7,000 patient contacts in intensive care and acute care of the elderly wards in 15 United Kingdom hospitals. Overall, hand hygiene compliance was 47.7 percent, but dropped to 41 percent when gloves were worn, according to a press release from the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America, which published the research in the December issue of its journal, Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology.

Failing to wash hands may contribute to the spread of infection in health care settings. Latex gloves do not always provide full protection from germs, and workers’ hands can be exposed to “back spray” when gloves are removed after handling body fluids, the release said.

Researchers recommended more studies on why health care workers are not washing their hands after wearing gloves, as well as more emphasis on hand hygiene.

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