Research for infection protection

Abstract: The relevance of hand hygiene for the prevention of nosocomial infection

The most important measure to prevent pathogens from being transmitted from one patient to another is hand disinfection. In hospitals, it shall be performed before and after every patient contact, before aseptic tasks, after body fluid exposure risk, and when leaving the patient surroundings. Unfortunately, hygienic hand disinfection is often forgotten: usually, it is only carried out with 50 % of the activities actually requiring a hand hygiene.

Hence, in 2008, we as German National Reference Centre for the Surveillance of Nosocomial Infections have initiated the national “Aktion Saubere Hände” (Clean Hands Campaign) together with the German Alliance for Patient Safety and the Society for Quality Management in Health Care. More than 700 hospitals and many residential and nursing homes as well as outpatient healthcare facilities meanwhile participate in this campaign. They attempt to raise the awareness of this issue, conduct training programmes, observe the processes in hospitals and measure the success of these efforts by recording the consumption of alcohol-based hand disinfectants per patient-day. Hospitals that already have participated in this campaign for three years, record an increase by 36 %.

Speech by Prof. Dr. med. Petra Gastmeier, Director of the Institute for Hygiene and Environmental Medicine, Charité University Medicine Berlin, Germany. Lunchtime Symposium: Hospital-acquired infection and hand hygiene: How research findings improve infection protection, Berlin, Germany, 9 November 2012, arranged by the BODE SCIENCE CENTER, Hamburg, Germany, scientific centre of excellence of PAUL HARTMANN AG, Heidenheim, Germany.