Hand hygiene protocols for ICU patients may reduce infection risk, study suggests

Hand hygiene practices for patients in the intensive care unit may be just as important for preventing infections as clinician hand hygiene, according to a study published in Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology

Researchers from Cleveland Clinic and Cleveland-based Case Western Reserve University conducted the study, which took place within three ICUs at a tertiary care center. Researchers collected hand imprints on agar from 56 patients over a 10-week period.

Microbiologic testing revealed 16 percent of patients had at least one type of aerobic pathogenic bacteria on their hands. Of those, 7 percent harbored at least one multidrug-resistant organism, including MRSA, vancomycin-resistant Enterococci and ciprofloxacin-resistant gram-negative bacteria.

Researchers noted current best practice recommendations do not emphasize patient hand hygiene, despite growing evidence about its role in the transmission of healthcare-associated infections. Implementing infection prevention strategies that include patient hand hygiene protocols may help reduce the risk of HAIs, the authors concluded.

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