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Hospital Doctors are not as Clean as Nurses, Study Finds

Update Date: Aug 23, 2013 03:05 PM EDT

Hospitals are supposed to be clean and sterile facilities in order to protect patients and medical personnel from infections and other health risks. Due to the risks involved with treating patients in general, all medical professionals have to keep up with simple good hand hygiene. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), dirty hands contribute to millions of infections per year, which then leads to hundreds of thousands of preventable deaths. In a new study, researchers found that doctors are not as clean as nurses even though hand hygiene has improved.

This study aimed to determine whether or not the WHO's Hand Hygiene Program was effective. The researchers looked at 43 hospitals located in five countries, which were Africa, Costa Rica, Italy, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. Overall, the researchers found that the program was effective in low, mixed and high resourced medical settings. The program was able to improve hand hygiene by 16 percent going from 51 percent before the program started to 67 percent.

"This program provides healthcare workers with global and local support for the first time," Professor Mary-Louise McLaws, one of the study's authors, said according to Medical Xpress. McLaws had also helped draft the Hand Hygiene Guidelines with WHO. "The introduction of awareness of hand hygiene and simple resources is a great success with very little financial burden to each country."

Despite finding that all hospitals appear to benefit from these guidelines, the researchers also found that doctors are generally less clean than nurses. Since both medical professionals interact with patients everyday, getting their rates up is extremely important. The study found that the highest compliance rates were seen in nurses with 71 percent. The lowest compliance rates were from doctors with 60 percent. The researchers plan on trying new ways to improve these rates.

"Before the launch, healthcare workers missed around half of the appropriate hand hygiene opportunities and after the program they missed a third," McLaws added. "The launch is just the first step. The next phase will be harder - changing entrenched poor hand hygiene behavior in some healthcare works who have yet to respond to the program."

So far, the WHO's guidelines have been implemented in 168 countries. These guidelines will hopefully raise the percentages even more and prevent infections. The study was published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases

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