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Am J Infect Control. 2013 Sep;41(9):793-8. doi: 10.1016/j.ajic.2012.11.012. Epub 2013 Feb 20.

Patients' potential role in the transmission of health care-associated infections: prevalence of contamination with bacterial pathogens and patient attitudes toward hand hygiene.

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  • 1Summa Health System, Akron, OH 44304, USA.



Transmission of health care-associated infections (HAIs) has been primarily attributed to health care workers, and hand hygiene is considered the most important means to reduce transmission. Whereas hand hygiene research has focused on reducing health care worker hand contamination and improving hand hygiene compliance, contamination of patients' hands and their role in the transmission of HAIs remains unknown.


Patients' hands were sampled by a "glove juice" recovery method and enumerated for the presence of common health care-associated pathogens. Patient demographics and other covariates were collected to determine their association with patient hand contamination. Patient attitudes and practices toward hand hygiene were also surveyed and analyzed.


Of the 100 patients in the study, 39% of hands were contaminated with at least 1 pathogenic organism, and 8% were contaminated with 2 or more pathogens 48 hours after admission. Patient admission from or discharge to an outside institution and self-reported functional limitations were the only covariates that were significantly associated with hand contamination.


Pathogenic organisms can be frequently detected on hands of acute care patients. Future studies are needed to better understand the relationship between patient hand contamination and the acquisition of HAIs in addition to the role patient hand hygiene can play in reducing HAIs.

Copyright © 2013 Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology, Inc. Published by Mosby, Inc. All rights reserved.


Hand contamination rate; Hand hygiene; Hand hygiene survey; Inpatient; Patient hand contamination; Patient safety

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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