Healthcare News & Insights

Hand sanitizer dispensers: Studies reveal two ways to cut down contamination rate in OR

Believe it or not, two common-sense remedies — cleaning hand sanitizer dispensers and giving healthcare workers their own hand gel — are two ways hospitals can significantly lower their contamination rate in operating rooms (OR). 86509844

Two studies, presented at the anesthesiology 2013 annual meeting, showed how these two simple actions can keep your patients safer by decreasing contamination in the OR and recover room, reported Newswise.com.

 Clean high-touch surfaces

In the first study, researchers analyzed bacterial counts on high-touch surfaces, such as hand sanitizer dispenser.

The bacteria on sanitizer dispensers were sampled at four-hour intervals at two hospitals during the work day and at 5 a.m. and 8 p.m. At the first hospital hand sanitizers were cleaned with germicidal disposable wipes after each patient discharge. At the second hospital, no disinfection of the dispensers was done.

The results were astounding: The bacterial contamination on hand sanitizers was decreased by 75%.

“Perioperative infection and contamination is a serious threat to patient safety,” Dr. Devon Cole, Department of Anesthesiology at the University of Florida, Gainesville, told Newswise. “The hand sanitizer is touched to sanitize a presumably unsanitary hand and is therefore uniquely vulnerable to contamination. It just made sense to measure the bacteria on the dispenser handles of these containers.”

To see just how big a difference the decontamination made:

  • At the first hospital, the number of bacterial units rose from one at 5 a.m. to 23 at 6 p.m., and
  • At the second hospital,  there was an average of one bacterial unit on the hand sanitizers at 5 a.m. and 8 p.m., but by the end of the day, the bacterial units on the dispensers jumped to an average of 93.

Wore sanitation gel dispensers

In the second study, compliance with hand sanitation policies were observed for all physicians, fellows, residents and nurses. Then providers were given personal sanitation gel dispensers they wore on their belts, and were observed again.

Overall, compliance with the hand hygiene protocol increased 29% after the personal hand sanitation gel dispensers were implemented.

The number of encounters observed prior to the use of the personal hand sanitizers were 146, and compliance for pre- and post-patient contact hand hygiene were 23% and 43%, respectively. After the individual gel dispenser were handed out, 161 encounters were observed. Compliance for pre- and post-patient contact were 53% and 72%, respectively.

“Despite the availability of wall-mounted hand sanitation dispensers, compliance was less than ideal,” Dr. Colby Parks, Department of Anesthesia at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, told Newswise. “This study shows that a simple intervention in which a personal antibacterial hand gel dispenser is readily available, works better for a busy health care provider’s workflow pattern, presumably leading to decreased patient and surrounding-care-area contamination.”

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