Intended for healthcare professionals


Hand hygiene

BMJ 2001; 323 doi: (Published 25 August 2001) Cite this as: BMJ 2001;323:411

Use alcohol hand rubs between patients: they reduce the transmission of infection

  1. Louise Teare, chair, Hand Hygiene Liaison Group,
  2. Barry Cookson, director,
  3. Sheldon Stone, senior lecturer
  1. Chelmsford Public Health Laboratory, Chelmsford CM2 0YX
  2. Hospital Infection Laboratory, Public Health Laboratory Service, London NW9 5HY
  3. Academic Department of Geriatric Medicine, Royal Free Hospital, London NW3 2QG

    It is two years since the hand washing liaison group, a group of professionals interested in reducing the transmission of infection, drew attention in the BMJ to the importance of hand washing in reducing hospital acquired infections.1 The issue has again received prominence in Britain with the recent publication of the “Epic” evidence based guidelines on hand hygiene, commissioned by the Department of Health.2 The challenge now is to ensure implementation of the guidelines in daily practice. In recognition of the fact that washing with soap and water is not the only (or even the most effective) way of reducing the transmission of organisms our group has changed its name to the hand hygiene liaison group and has some practical recommendations on easy ways of improving hygiene.

    Publication of the Epic guidelines on preventing hospital acquired infection follows reports 3 4 documenting the seriousness of hospital acquired infection and antimicrobial resistance in the NHS. Hospital acquired infections in the United Kingdom cost around £1bn a year3 and affect nearly 10% of …

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