Alcohol-based hand disinfection: a more robust hand-hygiene method in an intensive care unit

J Hosp Infect. 2005 Mar;59(3):229-34. doi: 10.1016/j.jhin.2004.10.003.


This study involved observation of hand-hygiene behaviour and evaluation of the effect of alcohol-based hand disinfection and handwashing with plain liquid soap on microbial flora. The study was performed in a combined medical and surgical intensive care unit. We demonstrated a crude compliance of hand hygiene of 50.4%, which was only performed adequately in 20.8% of cases. Of this group, handwashing and hand-disinfection procedures were performed properly 34.0% and 71.6% of the time, respectively. Hand samples for bacteriological examinations with the glove juice method demonstrated that whilst handwashing was sensitive to the way in which hand hygiene was performed, alcohol-based hand disinfection was less sensitive to such performance. Our study demonstrated that alcohol-based hand disinfection is a robust hand-hygiene method with many advantages in a practical setting. It is very feasible for use in hospital wards.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Alcohols / administration & dosage*
  • Alcohols / standards
  • Cross Infection / microbiology
  • Cross Infection / prevention & control*
  • Guideline Adherence*
  • Hand Disinfection / methods*
  • Hand Disinfection / standards
  • Hospitals, University
  • Humans
  • Infection Control / methods
  • Intensive Care Units / standards*
  • Norway
  • Personnel, Hospital
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic*
  • Soaps / administration & dosage*
  • Soaps / standards
  • Surface-Active Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Surface-Active Agents / standards


  • Alcohols
  • Soaps
  • Surface-Active Agents