This is the best way to wash your hands - according to science
A new study by researchers at Glasgow Caledonian University has confirmed that a hand-washing method recommended by the World Health Organisation for health care professionals is superior to an alternative method recommended by America's Centers for Disease Control & Prevention.
Researchers observed 42 physicians and 78 nurses at an acute-care teaching hospital, monitoring how they used an alcohol-based hand rub to clean their hands.
The WHO's six-step hand-washing technique was found to be better than the CDC's three-step method, reducing the median bacterial count from 3.28 to 2.58, compared to the three-step method's 3.08 to 2.88.
However, the six-step method took 25 percent longer - 42.5 seconds, against the other method's 35 seconds.
The WHO's recommended method for cleaning your hands with an alcoholic hand rub, as illustrated on this poster.
The new study was published in the journal Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology.
"Hand hygiene is regarded as the most important intervention to reduce healthcare-associated infections, but there is limited evidence on which technique is most effective,” said research lead Jacqui Reilly. “This study provides a foundation for effective best practices to implement on the frontlines of healthcare.”
“One of the interesting incidental findings was that compliance with the six-step technique was lacking. Only 65 percent of providers completed the entire hand hygiene process despite participants having instructions on the technique in front of them and having their technique observed. This warrants further investigation for this particular technique and how compliance rates can be improved,” said Reilly.