Study: Many paramedics have poor hand hygiene
Researchers said many paramedics in their study ignored World Health Organization guidelines when soap and water or antiseptic rub was needed
By EMS1 Staff
ODENSE, Denmark — A recent study found that many paramedics have a “remarkably low” rate of hand hygiene standards.
UPI reported that researchers from the University of Southern Denmark in Odense studied 77 paramedics in Finland, Sweden, Denmark and Australia as they treated 87 patients.
Researchers said that while the paramedics complied with basic hygiene at a high rate, many ignored World Health Organization guidelines in instances where soap and water or antiseptic rub was needed.
The report, published in the “Emergency Medical Journal,” said overall compliance in the 1,300 instances where cleansing was required was 15 percent.
The authors said too many of the studied paramedics relied on gloves, and suggested that the paramedics were more worried about themselves than the patient.
"[Hand hygiene] is about preventing the spread of microbes and thus protecting the patient. Whereas the use of gloves primarily is about protecting oneself from bodily fluids," lead study author Heidi Storm Vikke said.
The study also highlighted a significant variation of compliance in different situations:
- 3 percent before touching the patient
- 2 percent before “clean procedures” such as injections or cleaning wounds
- 8 percent after contact with bodily fluids or wounds
- 29 percent after touching the patient
- 38 percent after handling the patient’s belongings or anything in the immediate vicinity.
Gloves were used in 54 percent of recommended instances. New gloves were put on before making contact with patients 48 percent of the time, but only at a rate of 14 percent for “clean” procedures.
Researchers said more studies need to be conducted to figure out why hand hygiene protocols may not be followed.