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Hygiene-free hospitals? New study suggests that medical staff DON'T actually wash their hands in almost 40 percent of all cases

Hand washing

(NaturalNews) Most people think of hospitals and clinics as being among of the cleanest places to be, but the reality is much different, especially in the United States.

As reported by the Daily Mail Online, a disturbing number of medical staff at outpatient centers are routinely neglecting to follow standard hygiene policies that were adopted as a means of tamping down infections, according to experts.

A new study has found that doctors, nurses and other medical staff do not follow guidelines for hand washing and cleansing more than 37 percent of the time, as well as established policies for safe injection practices more than one-third of the time. The researchers noted that following the recommended hygiene and preventive infection policies is vital to reducing incidences of hospital-caused infections.

A research team from the University of New Mexico and the New Mexico Department of Health examined practices at 15 different outpatient facilities during the summer of 2014. Medical students interviewed staffers who worked at the clinics and found that 93 percent of recommended policies were actively in place among the centers.

"This is critical"

But when researchers actually observed behavior of staff while on the job, they observed compliance with established hygiene rules only about 63 percent of the time. Also, researchers observed that clean injection policies were only followed about 66 percent of the time, the Daily Mail reported. And in 37 percent of cases, researchers said, they observed no hand washing or hand hygiene of any kind.

"'Despite high levels of report of hand hygiene education and observed supply availability, observations of hand hygiene and aseptic injection technique showed lack of similarly high behavior compliance,' the researchers commented, as noted in a press release.

"This project highlights the importance of assessing both the report of recommended infection prevention policies and practices, as well as behavior compliance through observational audits. This is critical because there have been outbreaks and infection transmission to patients reported in outpatient settings due to these types of infection prevention breaches, including transmission of hepatitis B and C," they said.

The team examined prevention policies utilizing an outpatient infection prevention checklist which was developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The list includes 14 topics, including education and training, administrative policies, hand hygiene, injection safety, occupational health and environmental cleaning issues.

Besides analyzing policies based on the checklist, the medical student research team also looked at injection safety and hand washing/hand hygiene practices at their assigned outpatient clinic. Each student was tasked with observing 10 injections and 20 instances where hand hygiene policies should be followed, such as before a medical provider performs a task or after patient contact. Of the 163 injection observations, only 66 percent, or roughly two-thirds of the time, were in compliance with established safety and anti-infection protocols – hand washing, disinfecting the rubber septum of the medication bottle prior to drawing up the injection, proper discarding of single-dose medication vials, and dating multiple-dose vials after they had been opened.

1.7 million hygiene-related infections a year in the U.S.

During 330 hand washing and hygiene observations, students reported that supplies were present 100 percent of the time, meaning they were available for use all of the time.

"These findings highlight the need for ongoing quality improvement initiatives regarding infection prevention policies and practices in outpatient settings," the authors – whose study was published in the American Journal of Infection Control, the official publication of the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology – wrote.

This latest study is hardly the first work demonstrating a lack of proper hygiene practices in U.S. healthcare facilities. As we reported in June 2012, undercover surveillance cameras found that staff in New York City hospitals engaged in established hand washing procedures ranging from just over 30 percent of the time to around 91 percent.

And, we noted, according to the World Health Organization, hygiene-related infections affect as some 1.7 million patients a year in the United States alone.







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