New research on hand hygiene in healthcare settings

The French Society for Hospital Hygiene has published research recommending single use paper towels as the most effective method to minimise the spread of microorganisms

New guidance on hand hygiene published by the French Society for Hospital Hygiene (SF2H), strongly discourages the use of electric hand dryers as a method of hand drying in hospitals and recommends instead the use of single use paper towels as the most effective way to dry hands and minimise the spread of microorganisms.

SF2H’s newly published guidance Hand hygiene and care – choice of products and how to use and promote them offers the first new guidance on hand hygiene for many years. It recognises that good hand hygiene among healthcare professionals is essential in preventing infection and cross transmission of microorganisms in a healthcare setting.

The report was reviewed by 25 experts in infection control and microbiology, and will be widely circulated and read by those working to promote optimal hygiene and minimise the spread of microorganisms.

The report cites the most recent literature, which found that electric dryers contaminate both the air and the surfaces in washrooms with bacteria and viruses.

Professor Frédéric Barbut of the Infection Control Unit at Hospital Saint-Antoine (AP-HP), said: “This new SF2H guidance reflects the latest research on hand hygiene and is intended to complement the recommendations published in 2009. Responding to a question frequently posed by hygienists and in light of recently published studies, the authors of the guidance advise against the use of hot air hand dryers in healthcare settings because of bacterial and viral contamination of air and surfaces.”

SF2H, the French Society for Hospital Hygiene, is a member of the European network to promote infection prevention for patient safety and of the International Federation of Infection Control (IFIC).

It is composed of professionals working in the field of hygiene promotion in healthcare and promotes safety and quality of care, epidemiology, prevention and the fight against healthcare associated infections.

“The latest SF2H guidance provides clear guidance to healthcare professionals throughout France and beyond,” said Fanis Papakostas, chairman of ETS.

“The results of these studies have significant implications for the choice of hand-drying method in hospital washrooms, where limiting the spread of microorganisms is paramount due to patients increased susceptibility to infection and the greater prevalence of potential and/or antimicrobial resistant pathogens.”

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