Handrub dispensers per acute care hospital bed: a study to develop a new minimum standard

Antimicrob Resist Infect Control. 2021 Jun 16;10(1):93. doi: 10.1186/s13756-021-00949-0.


Background: Accessibility to alcohol-based handrub (ABHR) dispenser is crucial to improve compliance to hand hygiene (HH), being offered as wall-mounted dispensers (ABHR-Ds), and/or pocket bottles. Nevertheless, information on the distribution and density of ABHR-Ds and their impact on HH have hardly been studied. Institutions such as the World Health Organisation or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention do not provide guidance. The Robert-Koch-Institute (RKI) from Germany recommends an overall density of > 0.5 dispensers per patient bed. We aimed to investigate current conditions in hospitals to develop a standard on the minimal number of ABHR-D.

Methods: Between 07 and 09/2019, we applied a questionnaire to 178 hospitals participating in the Swissnoso National Surveillance Network to evaluate number and location of ABHR-Ds per bed in acute care hospitals, and compared the data with consumption and compliance with HH.

Results: 110 of the 178 (62%) hospitals provided data representing approximately 20,000 hospital beds. 83% hospitals provided information on both the total number of ABHR-Ds and patient beds, with a mean of 2.4 ABHR-Ds per bed (range, 0.4-22.1). While most hospitals (84%) had dispensers located at the room entrance, 47% reported also locations near or at the bed. Additionally, pocket-sized dispensers (100 mL) are available in 97% of hospitals.

Conclusions: Swiss hospitals provide 2.4 dispensers per bed, much more than governmental recommendation. The first study on the number of ABHR-Ds in hospitals may help to define a minimal standard for national and international recommendations.

Keywords: Alcohol-based handrub dispensers; Hand hygiene; Location; Quality standards.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cross Infection / prevention & control*
  • Ethanol / administration & dosage
  • Guideline Adherence
  • Hand Disinfection* / instrumentation
  • Hand Disinfection* / standards
  • Hand Sanitizers / administration & dosage*
  • Hospitals
  • Humans
  • Patients' Rooms
  • Switzerland


  • Hand Sanitizers
  • Ethanol