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Year : 2019  |  Volume : 12  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 90-91  

Hand washing by health professionals-victim of a casual approach

Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Dr. DY Patil Medical College, Dr. DY Patil Vidyapeeth, Pune, Maharashtra, India

Date of Web Publication22-Jan-2019

Correspondence Address:
Himadri Bal
Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Dr. DY Patil Medical College, Dr. DY Patil Vidyapeeth, Pimpri, Pune, Maharashtra
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/mjdrdypu.mjdrdypu_164_18

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How to cite this article:
Bal H. Hand washing by health professionals-victim of a casual approach. Med J DY Patil Vidyapeeth 2019;12:90-1

How to cite this URL:
Bal H. Hand washing by health professionals-victim of a casual approach. Med J DY Patil Vidyapeeth [serial online] 2019 [cited 2019 Jul 19];12:90-1. Available from: http://www.mjdrdypv.org/text.asp?2019/12/1/90/250429

Dear Sir,

This letter is with reference to your editorial titled “Hand hygiene and hubris: Wax wings and plane crashes” in the Vol 11(3) issue of 2018.

This article has generated in me a whole lot of introspection into the day to day functioning of our hospital. The first question in my mind was “Are we following this elementary practice of asepsis as per laid down norms?” The answer is “probably not.”

The next query which follows is “What holds back the health care workers (HCWs) from practicing hand washing or using a sanitizer each and every time they come in contact with patients?”

I feel there is an element of casualness on the part of HCWs. Moreover, a study has shown that they are more compliant after seeing the patient than before examining the patient, which is not an encouraging observation on the doctors. The same study states that there is 41% noncompliance, more before contact with patients (59.3%) compared to 16.9% after contact, and lapses are more with physicians than nurses.[1] Another study of 2010 mentioned that only 40% of people involved in patient care follow recommended method of hand washing.[2]

There is another side to this issue. Those noncompliant have their own justifications for the lapse. Several points have been highlighted in various publications on this topic as reasons for non-compliance. Some of them are skin reaction to the chemicals, facilities not being readily and conveniently available, lack of or ignorance of guidelines, high workload and paucity of time, insufficient evidence to validate benefits of hand washing and so on.[3]

I want to end with a quote by an expert in health care quality Dr Avedis Donabedian, to underline the ethos which may help HCWs to believe in this basic tenet of health care.[4]

“Health care is a sacred mission…Doctors and nurses are stewards of something precious… Ultimately, the secret of quality is love. You have to love your patient, you have to love your profession… If you have love, you can then work backward to monitor and improve the system.”

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Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

  References Top

Mahfouz AA, El Gamal MN, Al-Azraqi TA. Hand hygiene non-compliance among intensive care unit health care workers in Aseer central hospital, South-Western Saudi Arabia. Int J Infect Dis 2013;17:e729-32.  Back to cited text no. 1
Erasmus V, Daha TJ, Brug H, Richardus JH, Behrendt MD, Vos MC, et al. Systematic review of studies on compliance with hand hygiene guidelines in hospital care. Infect Control Hosp Epidemiol 2010;31:283-94.  Back to cited text no. 2
Pittet D. Improving adherence to hand hygiene practice: A multidisciplinary approach. Emerg Infect Dis 2001;7:234-40.  Back to cited text no. 3
Saint S. Hand Washing Stops Infections, So Why Do Health Care Workers Skip it? – The Conversation; 2016. Avaiable from: http://www.theconversation.com/hand-washing-stops-infections-so-why-do-health-care-workers-s. [Last accessed on 2018 Dec 02].  Back to cited text no. 4


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