Ambulance personnel adherence to hygiene routines: still protecting ourselves but not the patient

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ObjectivesIt is well known that adherence to hygiene routines leads to increased quality of care and safety for patients and personnel in hospitals. However, there have been few studies describing hygiene in ambulances, despite the fact that many patients receive advanced medical care and treatment from ambulance services before arriving at an emergency department. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to describe the adherence of ambulance personnel to hygiene routines in the ambulances.MethodsA participant observation study in the County of Värmland (Sweden) was conducted over 1 day in November 2010. Seven hygiene-related variables were collected during the observations: disinfection of hands before and after patient contact; correct use of gloves, gowns and short-sleeved uniforms; no rings, watches, or bracelets; and short or tied back hair during patient care.ResultA total of 68 observed ambulance assignments were analyzed in terms of the adherence of personnel to hygiene routines. In 34% of the observed cases, hand rub was used before patient care and, in 72% of the observed cases, the ambulance personnel used hand rub after patient care. Correct adherence to the rule requiring use of a short-sleeved uniform was found in 28% of the observations. Correct adherence to the rule regarding short or tied back hair was found in 91% of the observations.ConclusionThe ambulance personnel were found to have relatively good adherence to some hygiene routines, but not all. The adherence by ambulance personnel to all of the seven observed variables was correct in only 3% of the assignments.

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