Patient, physician co-washing may boost hand hygiene compliance

Physician compliance with hand hygiene protocols prior to patient examination may improve when physicians are asked to offer hand sanitizer to patients before washing their hands with the sanitizer themselves, according to a recent study published in the Annals of Family Medicine.

For the study, researchers asked patients to respond to survey questions about their provider's hand hygiene practices. The clinical trial was conducted in two parts. Phase 1 involved patient observation without an intervention to encourage physicians to offer patients hand sanitizer. Phase 2 involved observations made after the intervention was implemented. Collectively, patients filled out 384 questionnaires — 184 from Phase 1 and 200 from Phase 2.

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Researchers found physicians washed their hands before examining a patient 96.6 percent of the time before the intervention and 99.5 percent of time after the intervention. Additionally, patients participated in hand washing when physicians offered hand sanitizer 83.7 percent of the time.

"Further research is recommended to determine whether 'co-washing' enhances clinic hand washing or hand washing at home by patients, and whether it can reduce infection rates," concluded the study's authors.

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