Handwashing patterns in two dermatology clinics

Dermatology. 2002;205(4):358-61. doi: 10.1159/000066421.


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.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Ambulatory Care Facilities
  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Cross Infection / prevention & control
  • Dermatology / standards
  • Dermatology / trends
  • Female
  • Gram-Negative Bacteria / isolation & purification
  • Gram-Positive Bacteria / isolation & purification
  • Guideline Adherence
  • Hand
  • Hand Disinfection / standards*
  • Health Personnel
  • Humans
  • Infection Control / methods*
  • Israel
  • Male
  • Physicians
  • Risk Assessment
  • Sampling Studies
  • Skin / microbiology*