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Infections in hospitals and hand hygiene - new results from research lead to an improved protection against infections

The lunchtime symposium "Infections in hospitals and hand hygiene - new results from research lead to an improved protection against infections" (09.02.2012, Berlin) gave information from new research results about prevalent hospital infections, patients with the highest infection risk and effective strategies for prevention.

The focus hand disinfection is known to be the most important measure to prevent transmission of pathogens in health care. A current study gives a successful approach to increase the acceptability in hand disinfection of health care workers. This results in an improved protection of the patients.  Here, we present an interview with the author of this study, Prof. Dr. med. Günter Kampf:

Do you know an explanation for the use of a hand disinfection method with 6 steps, recommended by the EN 1500 for the last 30 years, which is not that successful?

Günter Kampf: It is based on history. In 1978, Ayliffe developed a special technique to wash the hands, which was used as a standard for the effectiveness of hand disinfection according to EN 1500. At that time, evidence-based research showed no proved results for that. Today, our study provided proved data.

Why did you question on the 6 steps of hand hygiene?

Günter Kampf: Primarily, we wanted to know about the time of hygienic hand disinfection to be sufficient. We looked for areas of skin, which missed disinfectants, because they contribute to transmission of infections. We wondered about the result, that the recommended 6 steps were less successful than other techniques.

Did you create a new standard for hand hygiene?

Günter Kampf: Since the end of last year, a self-dependent hand-rub method is recommended by the "„Campaign Clean Hands"“. It is a great success in research because it shows the influence of research on practice, resulting in an improved protection against infections.  It also points on the importance to question on standards and to prove the effectiveness of measures. Protection of patients and health care workers should be the first aim.