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Duration of handwashing in intensive care units: A descriptive study

  • Z.Ahmed Quraishi
    Correspondence
    Reprint requests: Z. A. Ouraishi, 20201 Crawford Ave., Olympia Fields, IL 60461.
    Affiliations
    From the Section of Infectious Disease, Department of Medicine, Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine, the Olympia Fields Osteopathic Medical Center, Illinois, USA

    Graduate School of Education, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
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  • Maryanne McGuckin
    Affiliations
    From the Section of Infectious Disease, Department of Medicine, Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine, the Olympia Fields Osteopathic Medical Center, Illinois, USA

    Graduate School of Education, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
    Search for articles by this author
  • Francis X. Blals
    Affiliations
    From the Section of Infectious Disease, Department of Medicine, Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine, the Olympia Fields Osteopathic Medical Center, Illinois, USA

    Graduate School of Education, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
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      Abstract

      The duration of handwashing was studied in two community hospitals (teaching and nonteaching). The duration in seconds of 180 handwashes by health care personnel and 52 handwashes by non-health care personnel were recorded. The mean duration for health care personnel was 8.62 ± 0.29 SEM; the degree of patient contact did not influence the duration of handwashing. The duration of handwashing was two times longer in health care personnel vs. non-health care personnel (8.62 ± 0.29 vs. 4.14 ± 0.42; t = 7.7; p < 0.001). Comparisons revealed no statistically significant difference in duration between personnel at teaching and nonteaching hospitals or among those in different occupations. The data indicate that the duration of handwashing among health care personnel is below the standard recommended by authorities in hospital infection control. This may be an important factor in the transmission and persistence of nosocomial infection in critical care units. The antimicrobial efficacy of handwashing agents should be reevaluated considering the actual duration of handwashing by health care personnel within the hospital environment or efforts should be made to increase the duration of handwashing.
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