ER Crowding May Encourage Poor Hand Hygiene10/07/11
FRIDAY, Oct. 7 (HealthDay News) -- Emergency room patients who
are transported between departments or given hallway beds are more
likely to come into contact with health care workers who have not
properly washed their hands, according to a new study.
The researchers, reporting their findings online in the November
Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology, said the study sheds light on the infectious risks associated with overcrowded emergency rooms in the United States.
"We found that receiving care in a hallway bed was the strongest predictor of your health care providers not washing their hands," said study author Dr. Arjun Venkatesh, an emergency medicine resident at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, in a journal news release.
In conducting the study, researchers analyzed information on
more than 5,800 patient interactions in the emergency room.
Although staff members washed their hands properly 90 percent of
the time, providers were seen wearing gloves while treating
patients instead of washing their hands. Gloves are not a
substitute for proper hand hygiene, the researchers noted.
The study also found that workers who move patients between
rooms or departments were less likely than other hospital staff to
wash their hands. Researchers deduced this was due to a lack of
training on proper hygiene procedures.
The authors concluded more research is needed to better
understand the role emergency rooms play in health care-associated
"With nearly one in five U.S. residents visiting an emergency department each year, and emergency departments serving as a frequent interface between the public and patients with communicable diseases, we have to build systems that ensure the highest standards of hand washing and infection control to ensure the safest care for all patients," said Dr. Jeremiah Schuur, director for quality, safety and performance improvement in Brigham's department of emergency medicine, in the news release.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides
more information on
hygiene in health care settings.
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