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Tagged In:  Health

Think you know how to wash your hands? With the publication of new research, it may be time to think again.


Three steps or six steps? When it comes to washing your hands, have you been wondering which is best? Well, now we have the answer. Researchers at Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) have evaluated the effectiveness of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's three-step technique and the more rigorous six-step method advocated by the World Health Organization (WHO). Their conclusion is simple: six is better than three.



It may look a bit like a Tai Chi sequence or instructions for creating shadow puppets, but the six-step hand hygiene technique could improve care and save lives. Healthcare associated infection (HAI) rates have reduced in recent years. However, NICE estimates that there are still around 300,000 patients each year who acquire an HAI as a result of care within the NHS. This new research confirms what some experts have been saying for some time: that doctors, nurses and other healthcare staff should follow the six-step hand hygiene method to help further reduce the risk of HAIs.
  
On average, the six-step hand hygiene technique takes 7.5 seconds longer to complete than the three-step method. Those extra seconds could add up over a doctor's or nurse's working day. However, the benefits seem to outweigh this. In the GCU research, which involved 42 doctors and 78 nurses, the six-step technique was found to be significantly more effective microbiologically, reducing the median bacterial count from 3.28 CFU/mL to 2.58 CFU/mL. (The three-step method only reduced it from 3.08 to 2.88.) Consequently, the researchers are recommending that NHS trusts review their hand washing policies.

Even where the six-step technique is in operation, it was found that not everyone was doing it properly. "Only 65% of providers completed the entire hand hygiene process despite participants having instructions on the technique in front of them," said Jacqui Reilly PhD, lead author of the study.

In 2013-14, Public Health England estimated that HAIs cost the NHS more than £1 billion each year. Taking a bit more time and care to wash our hands could help reduce that burden, but exactly how we get hospital visitors to follow such a technique remains a real challenge. 

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vic Luchoo, 15 April 2016, 12:48 PM
Very refreshing ,and great tips for self hygiene and to protect others from harm.
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