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Hand Sanitizer Cuts MRSA Risk

Each Dab of Alcohol Sanitizer Cut MRSA Risk 1% in British Hospitals

Medically Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD on December 05, 2008
From the WebMD Archives

Dec. 5, 2008 -- Every dab of alcohol hand sanitizer used in Britishhospitals lowered multidrug-resistant staph (MRSA) infection rates by 1%, aU.K. study shows.

In-hospital infections -- particularly MRSA -- are a huge and growingproblem. As part of the solution, the U.K. National Health Service in 2004launched a national "clean your hands" campaign among health-careworkers.

As part of the campaign, dispensers of alcohol hand sanitizer are placednext to each patient's bed. Posters encourage patients to ask every hospitalworker they see whether they've washed their hands.

It's working, according to an evaluation of the campaign reported by SheldonStone of University College London Medical School at this week's meeting of theFederation of Infection Societies in Cardiff, Wales.

For every extra 1/5 teaspoonful of hand sanitizer used by a hospital, MRSArates fell by 1%, Stone reported. The program led to a threefold increase inthe amount of hand sanitizer and soap used in U.K. hospitals.

"The findings also serve as a reminder that we should be washing ourhands in the home and workplace," Stone says in a news release. "Winteris the season when colds and flus abound, and people can protect themselves andstop 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 -- Clostridiumdifficile or C. diff -- did not.

Show Sources

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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