Research

Compliance with hygiene practices among healthcare workers in the intensive care unit

A E Laher, L-R van Rooyen, L Gerber, G A Richards

Abstract


Background. Intensive care unit (ICU)-related healthcare-associated infections (HCAIs) are two to three times higher in lower-income countries than in higher-income ones. Hand cleansing and other hygiene measures have been documented as one of the most effective measures in combating the transmission of HCAIs. There is a paucity of data pertaining to hygiene practices in the ICU in developing countries.

Objectives. To determine compliance with hygiene practices among healthcare workers in a tertiary hospital ICU.

Methods. Hygiene practices of healthcare workers in a tertiary academic hospital ICU in Johannesburg, South Africa, were discreetly observed over an 8-week period. Compliance with hand cleansing and other hygiene practices was documented and analysed. Retrospective consent was obtained, and subject confidentiality was maintained.

Results. A total of 745 hygiene opportunities were observed. Of the 156 opportunities where handwashing with soap and water was indicated (20.9%), compliance was noted in 89 cases (57.1%), while an alcohol-based hand rub was inappropriately used in 34 cases (21.8%) and no hand hygiene was performed in the remaining 33 cases (21.1%). Of the 589 opportunities where an alcohol-based hand-rub was indicated, it was used in 312 cases (53.0%). Compliance with the donning of disposable surgical gloves, disposable plastic aprons and being ‘bare below the elbows’ was noted in 114 (90.6%), 108 (71.1%) and 355 (47.7%) opportunities, respectively, where these were indicated.

Conclusions. Overall compliance with hygiene measures among healthcare workers in the ICU was suboptimal in this study, but in keeping with general international trends. Regular retraining of staff, frequent reminders, peer oversight and regular audits may improve compliance.


Authors' affiliations

A E Laher, Department of Emergency Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa; Department of Critical Care, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa

L-R van Rooyen, Department of Emergency Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa

L Gerber, Department of Critical Care, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa

G A Richards, Department of Critical Care, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa

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Keywords

Handwashing; Hand hygiene; Personal protective equipment; Alcohol-based hand rub; Bare below the elbows; Intensive care unit; ICU

Cite this article

South African Medical Journal 2020;110(8):791-795. DOI:10.7196/SAMJ.2020.v110i8.14512

Article History

Date submitted: 2020-07-29
Date published: 2020-07-29

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