Nigerian Medical Practitioner

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Hand Washing Practices and Compliance among Health Care Workers in the Intensive Care Unit of a Teaching Hospital in Nigeria

KU Tobi, K Enyi-Nwafor


Hand washing is the simplest, most inexpensive and most effective method of reducing the incidence of hospital-acquired infections in the Intensive Care Unit. Several reports have shown a relationship between improved hand washing practices and reduced infection rates. We conducted a prospective, questionnaire-based study to evaluate the knowledge, practices and compliance with hand washing among health care workers in the Intensive Care Unit of the University of Benin Teaching Hospital, Benin City. The study revealed a 53% compliance with proper hand washing in the ICU. There was a wide disparity between knowledge and practice of hand washing as a way of reducing hospital-acquired infections. Some reasons given for failure to observe proper hand washing include; time wasting, skin irritation and unavailability of soap and water. In addition, we found that the most preferred method of hand drying after hand washing such as hand dryer was not available in the unit which contributed to low compliance. A written policy on hand washing should be formulated to be driven by the hospital management in conjunction with the infection control team of the hospital and all ICU staff. Posters and education materials on proper hand washing techniques should be made available in and around the ICU. Regular provision of soap and water, paper towels and hand dryers in designated areas of the unit should be enforced to encourage improved compliance.

Keywords: hand washing, practices, compliance, health care workers, ICU

Nigerian Medical Practitioner Vol. 63 No 4, 2013

AJOL African Journals Online