Hand hygiene behavior in a pediatric emergency department and a pediatric intensive care unit: comparison of use of 2 dispenser systems

Am J Crit Care. 2005 Jul;14(4):304-11; quiz 312.


Background: Adherence to hand hygiene standards is poor. Approaches and systems to improve hand hygiene practices warrant testing.

Objective: To compare the frequency of use of manually operated and touch-free dispensers of sanitizer for hand hygiene.

Methods: Manual and touch-free dispensers of alcohol sanitizer were placed in the emergency department and an intensive care unit of a large pediatric hospital for two 2-month periods for each type of dispenser. Counting devices installed in each dispenser and direct observations were used to determine actual frequency of and indications for hand hygiene.

Results: The touch-free dispensers were used significantly more often than were the manual dispensers. The means for the number of episodes of hand hygiene per hour were 4.42 for the touch-free dispensers and 3.33 for the manual dispensers (P=.04); the means for the number of episodes per patient per hour were 2.22 and 1.79, respectively (P=.004); and the means for the number of uses of the dispenser per day were 41.2 and 25.6, respectively (P=.02). However, the overall compliance rate was 38.4% (2136 episodes of hand hygiene per 5568 indications for hand hygiene).

Conclusions: The type of dispensing system influenced hand hygiene behavior. Nevertheless, overall hand hygiene compliance remained low. In order for interventions to have a major effect on hand hygiene, multiple factors must be considered.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Education, Continuing
  • Emergency Service, Hospital*
  • Equipment and Supplies*
  • Guideline Adherence
  • Hand Disinfection / standards*
  • Hospitals, Pediatric*
  • Humans
  • Hygiene*
  • Intensive Care Units, Pediatric*