Flu Season Severity Doesn’t Motivate Better Hand Hygiene

Published Online: Wednesday, November 13, 2013
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Despite hand hygiene education efforts, the results of a recent study suggest that health care personnel do not practice greater hand hygiene during a moderately severe flu season compared with a mild season.

The study, presented on October 3, 2013, at ID Week, compared the hand hygiene practices of health care personnel during the mild 2011-12 and the moderately severe 2012-13 flu seasons to determine whether increased incidence leads to improved compliance. Health care personnel from 3 medical centers participating in the Respiratory Protection Effectiveness Clinical Trial were observed for 12 weeks each season to assess their compliance with the World Health Organization’s Five Moments for Hand Hygiene guidelines. The researchers used data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to determine the severity of each season. Hand hygiene compliance rates did not significantly differ, and similar patterns were observed during both seasons.

Hand hygiene compliance was 30% during the 2011-12 season and 36% during the 2012-13 season. During both years, hand hygiene compliance was the highest at the start of the season. In 1 site, compliance steadily decreased each week throughout both seasons.

The authors of the study conclude that more educational strategies and new approaches should be used to improve hand hygiene among health care personnel throughout flu season. 

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