CDC's 3-step hand-washing technique vs. WHO's 6-step technique: Which is most effective?

Batman versus Superman. The World Health Organization's six-step hand hygiene technique versus the CDC's three-step method. Which is superior? While the debate around the superheroes may never be truly settled, new research has declared a winner in the hand hygiene battle.

A study led by Jacqui Reilly, PhD, professor of infection prevention and control at Glasgow Caledonian University in Scotland, found WHO's six-step hand hygiene technique was better than the CDC's three-step method in reducing bacteria on healthcare workers' hands. The findings were published in the journal Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology.

Dr. Reilly and her team conducted a randomized controlled trial in an urban, acute care teaching hospital, observing 42 physicians and 78 nurses completing hand-washing using an alcohol-based hand rub after delivering patient care.

The six-step technique was determined to be microbiologically more effective for reducing the median bacterial count (3.28 to 2.58) compared to the three-step method (3.08 to 2.88).

That said, WHO's method took 25 percent longer to complete (42.50 seconds vs. 35 seconds).

"One of the interesting incidental findings was that compliance with the six-step technique was lacking. Only 65 percent of providers completed the entire hand hygiene process despite participants having instructions on the technique in front of them and having their technique observed," said Dr. Reilly. "This warrants further investigation for this particular technique and how compliance rates can be improved."



More articles on hand hygiene:
Quality improvement, hand hygiene initiatives needed in outpatient settings, study finds
Nurses face three times as many hand hygiene opportunities as physicians, study finds
Good skin health- the hidden factor in hand hygiene compliance

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