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Crit Care Med. 2001 May;29(5):944-51.

Assessment of two hand hygiene regimens for intensive care unit personnel.

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Columbia University School of Nursing, New York, NY, USA.



To compare skin condition and skin microbiology among intensive care unit personnel using one of two randomly assigned hand hygiene regimens: a 2% chlorhexidine gluconate (CHG)-containing traditional antiseptic wash and a waterless handrub containing 61% ethanol with emollients (ALC).


Prospective, randomized clinical trial.


Two critical care units (medical and surgical) in a large, metropolitan academic health center in Manhattan.


Fifty staff members (physicians, nurses, housekeepers, respiratory therapists) working full time in the intensive care unit.


One of two hand hygiene regimens randomly assigned for four consecutive weeks.


The two outcomes were skin condition (measured by two tools: Hand Skin Assessment form and Visual Skin Scaling form) and skin microbiology. Samples were obtained at baseline, on day 1, and at the end of wks 2 and 4. Participants in the ALC group had significant improvements in the Hand Skin Assessment scores at wk 4 (p = 0.04) and in Visual Skin Scaling scores at wks 3 (p = 0.01) and 4 (p = 0.0005). There were no significant differences in numbers of colony-forming units between participants in the CHG or ALC group at any time period. The ALC regimen required significantly less time than the CHG regimen (mean: 12.7 secs and 21.1 secs, respectively; p = 0.000) and resulted in a 50% reduction in material costs.


Changes in hand hygiene practices in acute care settings from the traditional antiseptic wash to use of plain, mild soap and an alcohol-based product should be considered. Further research is needed to examine the association between use of antiseptic products for hand hygiene of staff and reductions in nosocomial infection rates among patients.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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