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DebMed Blog: Healthcare Hygiene Matters

Are You Using the Right Hand Hygiene Products? 7 Key Points to Consider

Posted by Tanya van Monsjou on Jul 21, 2017 11:19:54 AM

Infection Control Today recently published a Hand Hygiene Product Evaluation and Purchasing Guide which includes wisdom from hand hygiene product manufacturers and some key points to consider while selecting or changing products. We have summarized the 7 most common suggestions, in order of popularity, to provide you with a quick reference guide for your next product purchase.

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  1. Select a hand hygiene product that the end user will want to use

            Nurses and other hospital staff may use these products 100-plus times a day, so it’s important to understand the mildness data and to conduct an evaluation with staff to ensure the products will be preferred. Selecting a product that staff and patients will want to use can help to eliminate common barriers to hand hygiene and improve compliance. This is further supported by the CDC recommendations highlighting the importance of evaluating product characteristics that can affect acceptance, such as smell, consistency, color, and ease of lather, since products that are not well-accepted by HCWs can a deterrent to hand hygiene1.Hand Wash - Foam, White Sink, Home (GETTY_5516).jpg

  1. Consider the value beyond the sale

            Because hand hygiene products are used facility-wide, consider additional value offered by the supplier. When changing products, it is important to select a vendor that supports infection prevention by conducting in-services with staff over all shifts to explain the reason for change, why the product was selected, the unique benefits of the new product and how to use it. Personal in-services are very effective and well received because they are usually tailored to the facility’s needs, highly interactive, brief and memorable. Continuing education offered by a vendor is also a good way for staff to learn and get the CE hours they need. A partner in infection prevention will provide continuing education, in-services, awareness materials and other tools to increase hand hygiene compliance.

  1. Ensure accessibility for all hand hygiene indications

            Look for products that have multiple formats and dispenser options that provide easy and convenient product access in all the areas where staff work, including the point of care. This helps encourage compliance during all  WHO 5 Moments For Hand Hygiene and not just during room entry and exit. The CDC reports that "pocket carriage of ABHR's, combined with availability of bedside dispensers, has been associated with substantial improvements in adherence to hand-hygiene protocols".1

  1. Consider skin health in your product selection criteria

            Because healthcare workers wash their hands and use alcohol based handrubs (ABHR) so  frequently, it is important to include skin health in your product selection criteria. Dermatitis and cracked or dry skin can make the use of ABHR uncomfortable and decrease hand hygiene compliance. A survey conducted by the CDC revealed that approximately 25% of nurses report symptoms or signs of dermaHands - Lotion, Cream, Wash.pngtitis involving their hands1. Consider ABHR's with emollients that enhance skin health and prevent water loss, and mild or unscented foam soaps. Don't forget to provide skin restoring hand lotions or creams! Having a perfume-free healthcare hand cream or lotion available can help encourage ongoing hand hygiene and promote skin health.


  1. Efficacy should be supported with data

            Not all hand hygiene products are created equal, so don't be afraid to ask for clinical data. All ABHRs must meet the FDA's Healthcare Personnel Handwash requirement of a 2-log10 reduction after the first product application and a 3-log10 reduction after the 10th application. Review the efficacy data and make sure the product meets the clinical needs of your facility.     

  1. Conduct a financial

            The use cost of soap and sanitizer is typically less than a penny per application, which is a real  value for a critical product that everyone can use to help stop transmission of HAIs.  However, those half-pennies do add up, so it is important to do a standardized financial comparison. There are multiple ways to analyze the options. Regardless of analysis method, compare the same volume across all products unless a supplier specifically indicates to use a certain volume of product (e.g., for waterless surgical scrubs).

  1. Consider product

            Healthcare workers use multiple products throughout their shift so it is important to ensure that they are not working against each other. Consider hand hygiene products that are compatible with latex and nitrile gloves and will not affect the antibacterial efficacy of other hand hygiene solutions such as chlorhexidine gluconate (CHG).

Click here to read the full Hand Hygiene Product Evaluation and Purchasing Guide

  1. Guideline for Hand Hygiene in Health-Care Settings, CDC https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/PDF/rr/rr5116.pdf#page=19


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Topics: hand hygiene, healthcare, product accessibility, healthcare costs, Skin Health, product availability, product selection

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The DebMed blog is the go-to source for hand hygiene and infection prevention related discussions occurring in the healthcare industry. Join the conversation! All readers are invited to comment, share stories and information, and post articles of interest.

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