Intended for healthcare professionals

Rapid response to:

Editorials

Hand washing

BMJ 1999; 318 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.318.7185.686 (Published 13 March 1999) Cite this as: BMJ 1999;318:686

Rapid Response:

Improving handwashing facilities can contribute towards good hand hygiene

EDITOR - The Handwashing Liaison Group should be congratulated for
raising the profile of hand washing and hand disinfection 1. In order to
implement good hand cleansing practice, it is vital to influence peoples'
behaviour. The cultural changes can be brought about if resources are
made available to promote good practice. Upgrading hand washing
facilities can encourage hand decontamination practices and promote
behavioural changes. The ease of use and access to hand washing
facilities are critical in maintaining good hand hygiene.

"Figure 1" shows a surgical hand washing trough installed at the
entrance to our food production unit. All staff entering the unit are
required to wash their hands and staff compliance with hand washing is
high. "Figure 2" shows a hand wash basin at the entrance to our intensive
care unit. Although, all staff are required to wash their hands on
entering the unit, staff compliance is poor.

We believe compliance with hand washing could be improved if a
surgical hand washing trough had been installed. Staff associate a
surgical hand washing trough with theatre procedures and asepsis. Also, a
trough system would allow three members of staff to wash their hands at
the same time and thereby reduce time required for a team of
doctors/nurses to wash their hands. We believe all high risk units and
wards should have hand washing troughs located at the entrance. Staff
should not be allowed to enter high risk units without washing hands. If
chefs who handle 'dead meat' can improve their hand washing when given
appropriate resources, we believe that medical and nursing staff handling
'live meat' can also alter their practice.

Dr Yasmin Drabu *
Consultant Microbiologist and Control of Infection Officer
Department of Microbiology
North Middlesex Hospital, London N18 1QX
* (Communicating author)

Dr Paul Lee
Consultant Microbiologist
Department of Microbiology
North Middlesex Hospital, London N18 1QX

Ms Selma Mehdi
Senior Infection Control Nurse
Department of Microbiology
North Middlesex Hospital, London N18 1QX

References:
1 Handwashing Liaison Group

Hand Washing - A modest measure with big effects

BMJ 1999; 318: 686. (13 March)

"Fig 1" Surgical hand washing trough outside food production unit

"Fig 2" Hand wash basin outside intensive care unit

Competing interests: No competing interests

18 June 1999
Y Drabu
P Lee, S Mehdi
North Middlesex Hospital, London N18 1QX