This study was carried out in a rural tertiary care referral hospital in central India, to ascertain lapses made by people caring for neonates in measures recommended for preventing hospital-acquired infections. Unobtrusive observation of the healthcare personnel (doctors, nurses, mothers and hospital attendants) during care of the newborn was undertaken. Lapse in handwashing by healthcare personnel was observed around 41% of the time, although mothers practiced their instructions meticulously. Lapses in methods of hand drying were seen around 7-8% of the time, in those who did wash their hands. Gloves were not used around 21% of the time, when they should have been; and of those using gloves, they were unsterile in around 22% cases. At delivery babies were received unhygienically on approximately 67% of occasions observed. Lapses during cord care ranged from 14.2% to 28.6% and during resuscitation from 16.6% to 60% of occasions. An uncleaned stethoscope was used 75% of the time. The practice of putting a finger in the baby's mouth was observed on 18 occasions. Considerable lapses by all, in every measure recommended for the prevention of hospital-acquired infections were observed. It is concluded that nothing other than an individual's commitment is likely to be successful in preventing hospital-acquired infections.
Copyright 2001 The Hospital Infection Society.