Two Out of Three Medical Students Do Not Know When to Wash Their Hands

Two Out of Three Medical Students Do Not Know When to Wash Their Hands

Washington, DC, December 1, 2011 - Only 21 percent of surveyed medical students could identify five true and two false indications of when and when not to wash their hands in the clinical setting, according to a study published in the December issue of the American Journal of Infection Control, the official publication of APIC - the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology.

Three researchers from the Institute for Medical Microbiology and Hospital Epidemiology at Hannover Medical School in Hannover, Germany collected surveys from 85 medical students in their third year of study during a lecture class that all students must pass before bedside training and contact with patients commences. Students were given seven scenarios, of which five (“before contact to a patient,” “before preparation of intravenous fluids,” “after removal of gloves,” “after contact to the patient’s bed,” and “after contact to vomit”) were correct hand hygiene (HH) indications. Only 33 percent of the students correctly identified all five true indications, and only 21 percent correctly identified all true and false indications.

Additionally, the students expected that their own HH compliance would be “good” while that of nurses would be lower, despite other published data that show a significantly higher rate of HH compliance among nursing students than among medical students. The surveyed students further believed that HH compliance rates would be inversely proportional to the level of training and career attainment of the physician, which confirms a previously discovered bias among medical students that is of particular concern, as these higher-level physicians are often the ones training the medical students at the bedside.

“There is no doubt that we need to improve the overall attitude toward the use of alcohol-based hand rub in hospitals,” conclude the authors. “To achieve this goal, the adequate behavior of so-called ‘role models’ is of particular importance.”


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Notes to editors
“Beliefs about hand hygiene: A survey in medical students in their first clinical year” appears in the American Journal of Infection Control, Volume 39, Issue 10 (December 2011). Full text of the article is available to journalists upon request; contact Liz Garman, APIC, + 1 202 454 2604, egarman@apic.orgto obtain copies.

Authors
Karolin Graf, MD, Institute for Medical Microbiology and Hospital Epidemiology, Hannover Medical School, Hannover, Germany.

Iris F. Chaberny, MD, Institute for Medical Microbiology and Hospital Epidemiology, Hannover Medical School, Hannover, Germany.

Ralf-Peter Vonberg, MD (Corresponding Author), Institute for Medical Microbiology and Hospital Epidemiology, Hannover Medical School, Hannover, Germany.

About AJIC: American Journal of Infection Control
American Journal of Infection Control (AJIC) ( www.ajicjournal.org) covers key topics and issues in infection control and epidemiology. Infection preventionists, including physicians, nurses, and epidemiologists, rely on AJIC for peer-reviewed articles covering clinical topics as well as original research. As the official publication of APIC - the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology - AJIC is the foremost resource on infection control, epidemiology, infectious diseases, quality management, occupational health, and disease prevention. AJIC also publishes infection control guidelines from APIC and the CDC. Published by Elsevier, AJIC is included in MEDLINE and CINAHL.

About APIC
APIC’s mission is to improve health and patient safety by reducing risks of infection. The association’s more than 14,000 members direct infection prevention programs that save lives and improve the bottom line for hospitals and other healthcare facilities around the globe. APIC advances its mission through education, research, collaboration, practice guidance, public policy,and credentialing. Visit APIC online at www.apic.org. For consumer-related information, visit www.preventinfection.org. Follow APIC on Twitter: http://twitter.com/apic.

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Media contact
Liz Garman
+1 202 454 2604
egarman@apic.org