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Hand hygene alone is not sufficient to prevent spreading of infections in hospitals  

Sunday, February 3, 2008

With the appearance of alcohol-based hand gel, many doctors and nurses are skipping the soap and water scrub and using the alcohol-based hand gel instead to prevent the spread of infection-causing germs in hospitals. Guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says better hand hygiene by frequent washing or use of hand gels can cut the spread of hospital infections.

However, according to Dr. Mark Rupp, an infectious disease specialist at the University of Nebraska Medical Center who led a study at the adjoining Nebraska Medical Center, that is not sufficient to prevent spread of infections in hospitals. Dr. Mark Rupp says rings and fingernails are too long and hard to clean. Poor handling of catheters and treatment areas are thus not sanitized. Dr. Mark Rupp's study was published in the January issue of Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology.

Dr. Rupp study showed hospital-borne infections cannot be stopped by better hand hygiene alone as spreading of infections are not caused by person-to-person contact alone. Dr. Rupp made the suggestion that hand gels should be complemented with additional measures such as better cleaning of hospital units, proper insertion and maintenance of catheters, and doctors only prescribing antibiotics when absolutely necessary so that we don't get the emergence of more drug-resistant bacteria.He further recommended that hospital workers should not wear rings plus trim their fingernails beyond the Centers for Disease Control's recommendation of no longer than a quarter of an inch. Dr. Rupp claimed that bacteria are present even when nails extended just beyond the fingertip.


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