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Hand Washing Practices Among Emergency Medical Services Providers

  • Author(s): Bucher, Joshua
  • Donovan, Colleen
  • Ohman-Strickland, Pamela
  • McCoy, Jonathan
  • et al.
Abstract

Introduction: Hand hygiene is an important component of infection control efforts. Our primary and secondary goals were to determine the reported rates of hand washing and stethoscope cleaning in emergency medical services (EMS) workers, respectively.Methods: We designed a survey about hand hygiene practices. The survey was distributed to various national EMS organizations through e-mail. Descriptive statistics were calculated for survey items (responses on a Likert scale) and subpopulations of survey respondents to identify relationships between variables. We used analysis of variance to test differences in means between the subgroups.

Results: There were 1,494 responses. Overall, reported hand hygiene practices were poor among pre-hospital providers in all clinical situations. Women reported that they washed their hands more frequently than men overall, although the differences were unlikely to be clinically significant. Hygiene after invasive procedures was reported to be poor. The presence of available hand sanitizer in the ambulance did not improve reported hygiene rates but improved reported rates of cleaning the stethoscope (absolute difference 0.4, p=0.0003). Providers who brought their own sanitizer were more likely to clean their hands.

Conclusion: Reported hand hygiene is poor amongst pre-hospital providers. There is a need for future intervention to improve reported performance in pre-hospital provider hand washing.

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