Study of the Day: 2 Out of 3 Medical Students Fail Hand Hygiene Test

More

American Journal of Infection Control research shows that few would-be doctors know when and when not to wash while in a clinical setting.

main mast3r shutterstock_57637531.jpg

PROBLEM: Hand hygiene saves lives. In 2002, the CDC estimated that 1.7 million patients contracted health care-associated infections in U.S. hospitals, and 98,987 of them died as a result. Do medical students who are about to enter the clinical phase of their education know when and when not to wash their hands?

METHODOLOGY: Researchers from Germany's Hannover Medical School collected surveys from 85 medical students in their third year of study during a lecture class that all students must pass before bedside training and contact with patients commences. Students were given seven scenarios, of which five ("before contact to a patient," "before preparation of intravenous fluids," "after removal of gloves," "after contact to the patient's bed," and "after contact to vomit") involved correct hand hygiene indications.

RESULTS: Only a third of the students correctly identified all five true signals to wash one's hands, and only 21 percent recognized all of the true and false indications. The medical students also overestimated how clean their hands were, especially compared to nurses.

CONCLUSION: "There is no doubt that we need to improve the overall attitude toward the use of alcohol-based hand rub in hospitals," the authors say in a statement, noting that improving the behavior of higher-level physicians who serve as the students' role models is of particular importance.

SOURCE: The full study, "Beliefs About Hand Hygiene: A Survey in Medical Students in Their First Clinical Year," is published in the American Journal of Infection Control.

Image: mast3r/Shutterstock.

Jump to comments
Presented by

Hans Villarica writes for and produces The Atlantic's Health channel. His work has appeared in TIME, People Asia, and Fast Company.

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

A Technicolor Time-Lapse of Alaska's Northern Lights

The beauty of aurora borealis, as seen from America's last frontier


Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

What Do You Wish You Learned in College?

Ivy League academics reveal their undergrad regrets

Video

Famous Movies, Reimagined

From Apocalypse Now to The Lord of the Rings, this clever video puts a new spin on Hollywood's greatest hits.

Video

What Is a City?

Cities are like nothing else on Earth.

Video

CrossFit Versus Yoga: Choose a Side

How a workout becomes a social identity

Video

In Online Dating, Everyone's a Little Bit Racist

The co-founder of OKCupid shares findings from his analysis of millions of users' data.

Writers

Up
Down

More in Health

Just In