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Transmission of microorganisms from the hands of healthcare workers is the main source of cross-infection and can be prevented by hand-cleansing. The authors assessed the compliance rate with hand-cleansing practices in the postanesthesia care unit and investigated factors associated with noncompliance.Patient care activities, indications for and compliance of postanesthesia care unit staff with hand-cleansing, defined as either washing hands with soap and water or rubbing hands with alcohol, were monitored at the time of patient admission and during their stay. Multivariate analysis identified predictors of noncompliance with hand-cleansing on admission after adjustment for confounders.A total of 3,143 patient care activities, including 1,091 opportunities for hand-cleansing at high or medium risk for cross-transmission, were recorded among 187 patients. The higher the workload, the higher the number of indications for hand-cleansing and the lower the compliance. Average compliance with hand-cleansing at postanesthesia care unit admission was 19.6%. Independent predictors for noncompliance included caring for patients older than 65 yr (odds ratio, 2.23; 95% confidence interval, 1.40–3.57) and those recovering from clean/clean–contaminated surgery (odds ratio, 2.27; 95% confidence interval, 1.11–4.76), as well as high intensity of patient care (odds ratio, 1.01 per patient care activity; 95% confidence interval, 1.0–1.02). Compliance with hand-cleansing for patients already admitted to the postanesthesia care unit was 12.5%.Failure to cleanse hands during patient care is common in the postanesthesia care unit and is associated with identifiable factors. The close relation between the intensity of patient care and noncompliance argues that hand-cleansing should not be viewed as a problematic individual behavior only, and system change must be considered in prevention strategies.