The six golden rules to improve compliance in hand hygiene

J Hosp Infect. 2004 Apr;56 Suppl 2:S3-5. doi: 10.1016/j.jhin.2003.12.023.


Improvement of compliance in hand hygiene is probably the most effective step in reducing the incidence of nosocomial infections (NI). But improvement of compliance is known to be complex. Six possibilities for improving compliance are available although some of them may be difficult to carry out. Rule 1: Select an alcohol-based hand rub which has a good skin tolerance and is acceptable to health care workers to use. This has been shown to improve compliance. Rule 2: The hand rub shall be easily available. Wall dispensers near the patient and pocket bottles may well help. Other possibilities should be assessed locally. Rule 3: Implement teaching and promotion of hand hygiene, which has been shown to be very effective. This is may be the most effective tool but will cost time and money. If money is a problem, rule 4 may be the solution. Rule 4: Create a hospital budget which covers all costs involved with preventable nosocomial infection. Combine it with the budget for hand hygiene products. Even a small number of prevented NI largely outweighs the cost of effective hand hygiene products. Rule 5: Get senior staff to set a good example in order to motivate junior staff, because negligence in hand hygiene appears to correlate with the number of professional years. Rule 6: Have the patient-staff ratio well balanced. It has been shown that staff shortage decreases hand hygiene compliance. Other factors may be important as well, but implementation of these 6 golden rules could be an effective step into the right direction.

MeSH terms

  • Cross Infection / prevention & control*
  • Europe
  • Guideline Adherence*
  • Hand Disinfection*
  • Health Personnel / standards*
  • Humans