Medical Students Fail to ID Hand Hygiene Indications

Preclinical phase medical students lack knowledge about hand disinfection indications

MONDAY, Dec. 5 (HealthDay News) -- Medical students who are about to start the clinical phase of their education have a lack of knowledge regarding the correct indications for hand disinfection, according to a study published in the December issue of the American Journal of Infection Control.

Karolin Graf, M.D., from Hannover Medical School in Germany, and colleagues evaluated beliefs regarding various HH-related topics in 85 medical students at the time point before they entered their clinical phase of education. The students had to identify correct HH indications from a list of seven possibilities (five were true indications). Other topics surveyed included beliefs on HH compliance in different medical departments and groups of hospital staff, possible reasons for noncompliance, average HH compliance achieved in hospitals, and potential for nosocomial infection reduction with 100 percent HH compliance.

The investigators found that, while all true and false indications were correctly identified by only 21 percent of the students, 67 percent of them at least correctly identified the five HH indications. According to the students, the best HH compliance is achieved in surgery (58 percent), and the worst compliance is in internal medicine (2 percent). Staff "laziness" was the main reason given for noncompliance. Most students believed their own HH compliance to be better than that of nurses, and that HH compliance rates continuously decrease with higher qualification of the physician.

"We need to improve the overall attitude toward the use of alcohol-based hand rub in hospitals. To achieve this goal, the adequate behavior of so-called "role models" is of particular importance," the authors write.

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