Why hand washing campaigns need to be focused on visitors
Effective hand hygiene has clearly become more important that ever. There’s no doubt that a properly carried out twenty second soap and water hand wash (ideally followed by a thorough dry with a disposable paper hand towel) is the most important activity anyone can carry out these days.
As and when things begin to settle down again, hand washing will always now remain a high priority. Infection control has always been a focus for staff in hospitals and medical facilities – but until now the message for visitors has been at best a very weak and underemphasised one.
This must now change, wrote Edward Sutanto in a recent article on the Buffalo News website.
“…hospital visitors may have a unique position in disease transmission as they can unknowingly spread infectious diseases from the community to hospitalized patients.”
A potentially greater cause for concern is that “…visitors can spread diseases – be it bacterial, viral or fungal – from hospitals to the community” the report added.
Antibiotic resistant bacteria proliferate in hospitals, described as a “noted breeding ground” – and without effective hand hygiene, they can be released by visitors into the wider community the article warns.
The good and bad news about visitor hand hygiene frequency
Sutanto quotes a Johns Hopkins study that recently focused on hand washing habits of medical facility visitors. Perhaps inevitably, the use of facilities “remains low”, even with visual nudges in place, but when people are verbally reminded to wash and expected compliance increase of 80% can reasonably be achieved.
All this of course, assumes that appropriate hand washing facilities can be found in locations where they will be of the most use…
Hand washing by hospital visitors has never been more important »
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