The impact of alcohol hand sanitizer use on infection rates in an extended care facility

Am J Infect Control. 2002 Jun;30(4):226-33. doi: 10.1067/mic.2002.120129.


Background: Nosocomial infections are a major problem in health care facilities, resulting in extended durations of care and substantial morbidity. Since alcohol gel hand sanitizers combine high immediate antimicrobial efficacy with ease of use, this study was carried out to determine the effect of the use of alcohol gel hand sanitizer by caregivers on infection types and rates in an extended care facility.

Method: Infection rate and type data were collected in a 275-bed extended care facility for 34 months (July 1997 to May 2000), during which an alcohol gel hand sanitizer was used by the caregivers in 2 units of the facility.

Results: The primary infection types found were urinary tract with Foley catheter, respiratory tract, and wound infections. Comparison of the infection types and rates for the units where hand sanitizer was used with those for the control units where the hand sanitizer was not used showed a 30.4% decrease in infection rates for the 34-month period in the units where hand sanitizer was used.

Conclusion: This study indicates that use of an alcohol gel hand sanitizer can decrease infection rates and provide an additional tool for an effective infection control program.

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Infective Agents, Local / therapeutic use*
  • Cross Infection / epidemiology
  • Cross Infection / prevention & control*
  • Ethanol / therapeutic use*
  • Female
  • Gels
  • Hand / microbiology
  • Hand Disinfection / methods*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Nursing Homes
  • Ohio / epidemiology


  • Anti-Infective Agents, Local
  • Gels
  • Ethanol