Effectiveness of a comprehensive hand hygiene program for reduction of infection rates in a long-term care facility

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Alcohol-based hand rubs play a key role in reducing the transmission of pathogens in acute care settings, especially as part of a comprehensive hand hygiene program. However, their use in long-term care facilities (LTCFs) has been virtually unstudied.


Infection data, including those meeting McGeer et al and the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority's surveillance definitions, for lower respiratory tract infections (LRTIs) and skin and soft-tissue infections (SSTIs), as well as hospitalization data were collected in a 174-bed LTCF for 22 months (May 2009 to February 2011). In March 2010, a comprehensive hand hygiene program including increased product availability, education for health care personnel (HCP) and residents, and an observation tool to monitor compliance, was implemented.


Infection rates for LRTIs were reduced from 0.97 to 0.53 infections per 1,000 resident-days (P = .01) following the intervention, a statistically significant decline. Infection rates for SSTIs were reduced from 0.30 to 0.25 infections per 1,000 resident-days (P = .65). A 54% compliance rate was observed among HCP.


This study demonstrates that the use of alcohol-based hand rubs, as part of a comprehensive hand hygiene program for HCP and residents, can decrease infection rates in LTCFs.

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