WEDNESDAY, Jan. 30 2019 (HealthDay News) — Among emergency medical service (EMS) providers, compliance with hand hygiene (HH) is low, according to a study published online Jan. 28 in the Emergency Medical Journal.

Heidi Storm Vikke, Ph.D., from the University of Southern Denmark in Odense, and colleagues conducted a multicenter prospective observational study of ambulance services from Finland, Sweden, Australia, and Denmark from December 2016 to May 2017. Two observers recorded HH compliance according to World Health Organization guidelines.

In each country, 60 hours of observation occurred, with 87 patient encounters. The researchers found that 1,344 indications for HH. Use of hand rub or hand wash was observed in 3, 2, 8, 29, and 38 percent of encounters before patient contact, before clean/aseptic procedures, after the risk of contact with body fluids, after patient contact, and after contact with patient-related surroundings. In 54 percent of all HH indications, gloves were worn. Adherence was 99, 84, and 62 percent to short or up-done hair, short and clean nails without polish, and no jewelry, respectively. HH compliance correlated with wearing gloves and provider level (odds ratios, 45 and 1.7, respectively) but not with gender.

“HH compliance among EMS providers was remarkably low, with higher compliance after patient contacts compared with before patient contacts,” the authors write. “In addition, there was an over-reliance on gloves, indicating a tendency towards self-protection instead of patient protection.”

Falck Denmark and the Danish Innovation Fund both contributed funding for the study.

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