Background: The hands of health care workers are a major source of nosocomial infection. Studies conducted mainly in intensive-care units and emergency departments have shown low compliance with hand hygiene recommendation.
Objective: To study hand hygiene practices in outpatient dermatology clinics in Israel.
Methods: The fingers of 13 dermatologist physicians were sampled for bacterial cultures and their hand hygiene practices were monitored by two observers. In addition, 51 dermatologists attending a professional conference completed a questionnaire on hand hygiene practice.
Results: All the physicians' hands were found to be contaminated. Staphylococcus aureus was isolated in 9 cases (69.2%), a methicillin-resistant S. aureus in 1 (7.7%). Monitoring revealed 555 opportunities for handwashing; the average compliance was 31.4%. In the questionnaire, the main reasons given for poor hand hygiene were excessive work schedule (58%), lack of awareness (35.3%), reaction to disinfectants (17.7%) and lack of readily available facilities (15.7%).
Conclusion: The hands of dermatologists are frequently colonized with microbial pathogens, but compliance with hand hygiene practice recommendations is low, despite a fairly high awareness of the importance. An active educational infection control program should be introduced in dermatology clinics.
Copyright 2002 S. Karger AG, Basel