Research for infection protection

Interview: “Challenge standards, scientifically prove measures – for more patient safety”

Prof. Dr. med Günter Kampf, Member of the Medical Faculty, University of Greifswald, Germany
Prof. Dr. med Günter Kampf, Member of the Medical Faculty, University of Greifswald, Germany

Three questions to Prof. Dr. med. Günter Kampf.

How comes that the method with six steps following EN 1500, which had been recommended for hand disinfection for 30 years, achieves a poor coverage?  

Günter Kampf: This has to do with history. In 1978, Ayliffe had developed a special wash technique which was then introduced as standard method for efficacy testing of agents, for example for hygienic hand disinfection according to EN 1500. At that time, evidence-based research was not yet on the agenda in hygiene. Only our study provided scientifically validated data.

What made you challenge the six steps?

Günter Kampf: Initially, we wanted to investigate how much time is needed for a hand disinfection procedure with sufficient quality. This was done by measuring the gaps in coverage as these are a potential risk for the spread of infection. We were also amazed when we realised that of all examined techniques the previously recommended six steps achieved the worst results.

Thus, you have established a new standard in hand hygiene?

Günter Kampf: Since the end of last year, the German „Aktion Saubere Hände” (Clean Hands Campaign) has recommended the responsible rub-in method. This is a major success for our scientific work as it shows how science can improve the practice – and thus infection protection. It also demonstrates how important it is to critically scrutinise standards repeatedly and prove the efficiency of measures scientifically. Because here, it is always about the safety of staff and patients.

Speech by Prof. Dr. med. Günter Kampf. 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.