Effect of surgical hand scrub time on subsequent bacterial growth

AORN J. 1997 Jun;65(6):1087-92; 1094-8. doi: 10.1016/s0001-2092(06)62949-9.


In this experimental study, the researchers evaluated the effect of surgical hand scrub time on subsequent bacterial growth and assessed the effectiveness of the glove juice technique in a clinical setting. In a randomized crossover design, 25 perioperative staff members scrubbed for two or three minutes in the first trial and vice versa in the second trial, after which the wore sterile surgical gloves for one hour under clinical conditions. The researchers then sampled the subjects' nondominant hands for bacterial growth, cultured aliquots from the sampling solution, and counted microorganisms. Scrubbing for three minutes produced lower mean log bacterial counts than scrubbing for two minutes. Although the mean bacterial count differed significantly (P = .02) between the two-minute and three-minute surgical hand scrub times, it fell below 0.5 log, which is the threshold for practical and clinical significance. This finding suggests that a two-minute surgical hand scrub is clinically as effective as a three-minute surgical had scrub. The glove juice technique demonstrated sensitivity and reliability in enumerating bacteria on the hands of perioperative staff members in a clinical setting.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Bacteria / growth & development*
  • Colony Count, Microbial
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Female
  • Gloves, Surgical*
  • Hand / microbiology*
  • Hand Disinfection / methods*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Time Factors