A new study has found that nearly one in four healthcare workers’ hands may be contaminated with Clostridium difficile spores after routine care of patients infected with the bacteria.
And experts believe that alcohol rubs may be insufficient to kill the spores, and that rigorous hand washing regimes are required instead.
“Because C. difficile spores are so resistant and persistent to disinfection, glove use is not an absolute barrier against the contamination of healthcare workers’ hands,” said the study’s lead author Caroline Landelle.
“Effective hand hygiene should therefore be performed, even in non-outbreak settings.”
The study authors reached this conclusion after examining levels of C. difficile transmission in healthcare settings where staff wore gloves and long-sleeved hospital gowns, and where hand washing with medicated soap and water was followed by use of an alcohol-based hand rub after glove removal.
They discovered that contamination of healthcare workers’ hands was most likely after high-risk, close contact with patients or where gloves were not worn.
However, according to the authors: “Many healthcare workers may be passing on this highly contagious bacteria to patients even after routine alcohol-based hand rubbing. This points to the need for routine hand washing with soap and water – rather than alcohol-based hand rub – after care of C. difficile patients in all settings.”
The study was published in the January issue of Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology, the journal of the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America
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