Low Compliance with Alcohol Gel Compared with Chlorhexidine for Hand Hygiene in ICU Patients: Results of an Alcohol Gel Implementation Program

Hospital Israelita Albert Einstein, São Paulo, SP, Brazil. <>
The Brazilian journal of infectious diseases: an official publication of the Brazilian Society of Infectious Diseases (Impact Factor: 1.3). 10/2009; 13(5):330-4. DOI: 10.1590/S1413-86702009000500003
Source: PubMed


Although the introduction of alcohol based products have increased compliance with hand hygiene in intensive care units (ICU), no comparative studies with other products in the same unit and in the same period have been conducted. We performed a two-month-observational prospective study comparing three units in an adult ICU, according to hand hygiene practices (chlorhexidine alone-unit A, both chlorhexidine and alcohol gel-unit B, and alcohol gel alone-unit C, respectively). Opportunities for hand hygiene were considered according to an institutional guideline. Patients were randomly allocated in the 3 units and data on hand hygiene compliance was collected without the knowledge of the health care staff. TISS score (used for measuring patient complexity) was similar between the three different units. Overall compliance with hand hygiene was 46.7% (659/1410). Compliance was significantly higher after patient care in unit A when compared to units B and C. On the other hand, compliance was significantly higher only between units A (32.1%) and C (23.1%) before patient care (p=0.02). Higher compliance rates were observed for general opportunities for hand hygiene (patient bathing, vital sign controls, etc), while very low compliance rates were observed for opportunities related to skin and gastroenteral care. One of the reasons for not using alcohol gel according to health care workers was the necessity for water contact (35.3%, 12/20). Although the use of alcohol based products is now the standard practice for hand hygiene the abrupt abolition of hand hygiene with traditional products may not be recommended for specific services.

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