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J Dtsch Dermatol Ges. 2010 Dec;8(12):978-83. doi: 10.1111/j.1610-0387.2010.07501.x. Epub 2010 Aug 31.

Hand disinfection in hospitals - benefits and risks.

[Article in English, German]

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Bode Chemie GmbH, Scientific Affairs, Hamburg, Germany Institute for Hygiene and Environmental Medicine, University of Greifswald, Germany.


The WHO regards hand hygiene as an essential tool for the prevention of noso-comial infections. The hygienic hand disinfection has a superior antimicrobial efficacy compared to hand washing and should be performed as the treatment of choice before and after a variety of activities at the point of patient care. Washing hands should be preferred when the hands are visibly soiled. Skin irritation is quite common among healthcare workers and is mainly caused by water, soap and long lasting occlusion. Compliance with hand disinfection in clinical practice is often low. Measures to improve compliance include training, provision of hand rubs where they are needed, and the responsibility of doctors to set a good example. Improved compliance in hand hygiene and targeted use of alcohol-based hand rubs can reduce the nosocomial infection rate by up to 40 %. The benefit of hand disinfection is therefore much larger than possible risks.

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