15-second hand-washing, shorter, as effective as WHO-recommended protocol, study shows

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New research shows that applying alcohol-based hand rub in 15 seconds using a three-step technique is as effective for hand hygiene as the protocol recommended by the World Health Organization, which involves six steps and is 30 seconds long, according to the Science Daily.

The research was presented at this month's European Congress of Clinical Microbiology & Infectious Diseases in Amsterdam, Netherlands.

Current WHO guidance calls for healthcare workers to use the six-step, 30-second application technique, however adherence to this protocol is low, reports Science Daily.

Researchers from a Switzerland-based hospital studied the efficacy of a simpler three-step technique with a shortened 15-second application time. They examined 20 healthy volunteers who all used the following hand hygiene protocols:

● The six-step technique for 30 seconds
● The six-step technique for 15 seconds
● The three-step technique for 30 seconds
● The three-step technique for 15 seconds

The study shows that applying hand rub for 15 seconds was as effective at reducing bacteria on the hands of study participants as applying it for 30 seconds. Additionally, reducing the number of steps involved in the technique could help improve compliance.

"Our findings suggest that shortening hand-rubbing time and simplifying the technique for use of hand rub could be a safe alternative that is easier to fit into their busy routine, could enhance the overall quality of hand hygiene performance, and have a positive effect on adherence," said Sarah Tschudin Sutter, MD, the study leader.

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