Australian healthcare workers don't wash hands often enough

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Monday, June 12, 2006

Researchers at the University of New South Wales have discovered that Australian healthcare workers do not wash their hands often enough in the course of their work. Researchers claim the practice places patients at risk of contracting infections.

The study, which looked into hygiene practices in Australian hospitals, found that some healthcare workers only washed their hands 15 percent of the time. Mary-Louise McLaws, a researcher at the University of NSW, said that the research found that most staff only washed their hands after using the toilet or when they felt dirty.

Professor McLaws said healthcare workers should wash their hands after coming into contact with each and every patient. Even after simple tasks such as taking a patient's temperature and making a bed, healthcare workers should wash their hands according to the study.

Researchers explained that despite more sinks being placed in hospitals, infection rates were still high. They concluded that behaviour modification was also required.

The study also found that hand washing after coughing or sneezing was beneficial for preventing the spread of influenza. Professor McLaws said, "We really need to get the message into the community that we wash our hands to protect others too".