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Mayo Clin Proc. 2004 Jan;79(1):109-16.

Hand hygiene: a frequently missed lifesaving opportunity during patient care.

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Division of Infectious Diseases and Internal Medicine, Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, Rochester, Minn 55905, USA.


Health care-associated infections constitute one of the greatest challenges of modern medicine. Despite compelling evidence that proper hand washing can reduce the transmission of pathogens to patients and the spread of antimicrobial resistance, the adherence of health care workers to recommended hand-hygiene practices has remained unacceptably low. One of the key elements in improving hand-hygiene practice is the use of an alcohol-based hand rub instead of washing with soap and water. An alcohol-based hand rub requires less time, is microbiologically more effective, and is less irritating to skin than traditional hand washing with soap and water. Therefore, alcohol-based hand rubs should replace hand washing as the standard for hand hygiene in health care settings in all situations in which the hands are not visibly soiled. It is also important to change gloves between each patient contact and to use hand-hygiene procedures after glove removal. Reducing health care-associated infections requires that health care workers take responsibility for ensuring that hand hygiene becomes an everyday part of patient care.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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