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J Hosp Infect. 2002 Apr;50(4):276-80.

Hand contamination before and after different hand hygiene techniques: a randomized clinical trial.

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  • 1Infection Control Unit, Bichat-Claude Bernard Hospital, Paris, France.


The efficacy of alcohol-based handrubs (ABH) for hand hygiene (HH) compared with handwashing (HW) remains to be established in the clinical setting. Factors associated with severe hand contamination before HH techniques were medical ward, physician and not wearing gloves. Forty-three healthcare workers [HCW, 26 nurses (N), nine nurse assistants (NA) and eight physicians (P)] each performed six HH techniques in random order, immediately after a patient care activity: HW with non-antiseptic soap for 10 (US10) and 30 (US30) s; HW with antiseptic (polyvidone iodine- or chlorhexidine-based) soap for 10 (AS10), 30 (AS30) or 60 (AS60) s; and ABH (Sterillium, Bode Chemie, Germany). The fingertips of the dominant hand were pressed on to agar for culture before and after each HH technique. Five hundred and sixteen specimens were obtained. Log(10)-transformed bacterial count reductions after HH were 0.74, 0.51, 1.13, 1.14, 1.21 and 1.40 for US10, US30, AS10, AS30, AS60 and ABH, respectively; both AS and ABH were significantly better than US. Qualitative assessment showed that 11 of the 256 pre-HH specimens (4.3%) had pathogenic bacteria, and that two of these 11 remained positive after HH (US in both instances).

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