WebMD Health News
Daniel J. DeNoon
Louise Chang, MD
Dec. 5, 2008 -- Every dab of alcohol hand sanitizer used in British
hospitals lowered multidrug-resistant staph (MRSA) infection rates by 1%, a
U.K. study shows.
In-hospital infections -- particularly MRSA -- are a huge and growing
problem. As part of the solution, the U.K. National Health Service in 2004
launched a national "clean your hands" campaign among health-care
As part of the campaign, dispensers of alcohol hand sanitizer are placed
next to each patient's bed. Posters encourage patients to ask every hospital
worker they see whether they've washed their hands.
It's working, according to an evaluation of the campaign reported by Sheldon
Stone of University College London Medical School at this week's meeting of the
Federation of Infection Societies in Cardiff, Wales.
For every extra 1/5 teaspoonful of hand sanitizer used by a hospital, MRSA
rates fell by 1%, Stone reported. The program led to a threefold increase in
the amount of hand sanitizer and soap used in U.K. hospitals.
"The findings also serve as a reminder that we should be washing our
hands in the home and workplace," Stone says in a news release. "Winter
is the season when colds and flus abound, and people can protect themselves and
stop germs from spreading by frequently washing their hands."
Although MRSA rates dropped during the "clean your hands" campaign,
rates of another on-the-rise, difficult-to-eradicate bug -- Clostridium
difficile or C. diff -- did not.
SOURCES:Federation of Infection Societies Scientific Meeting 2008, Cardiff, Wales,
Dec. 2-4, 2008.News release, University College London.U.K. National Health Service, National Patient Safety Agency web site.
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