Hand Hygiene Saves Lives

By Mina Ghobrial
In a 2018 study published in Elsevier, researchers in France incorporated a multicomponent hand hygiene program in thirteen nursing homes throughout the country. When compared to thirteen other French nursing homes, all randomly selected and assigned, the results reflected a decreased mortality rate and a reduced antibiotic prescription rate. 
In what was one of the first studies focused around hand hygiene outside of a hospital setting, researchers targeted nursing home staff, visitors, residents, and health care providers through a series of promotional posters, personalized dispensers, and various awareness events. By targeting nursing home staff, and going as far as giving quizzes to said staff, the experimental group was able to promote hand hygiene to the point where a statically significant change in the mortality was observed. A 0.55 deaths per 100 residents was observed over the course of one year. While France suffered a flu epidemic in the months between January and March, the experimental group had an impressive 30% lower mortality rate than the control. A similar trend was observed when considering the rate of antibiotic prescriptions. 
The habituation produced as a result of this program was also observed. By the end of the study, the average individual in the experimental group was using upwards of 1.5 more milliliters of hand wash or sanitizer per day. Unfortunately, these results did not remain consistent for more than three months after this study's termination. 
As the flu sweeps through the United States, these findings are especially interesting if we seek to control the spread of infectious agents. This can have wide spread effects on mortality rates outside of just hospitals and nursing homes, should we all take the time to just wash our hands.

Elsevier. (2018, February 14). Rigorous hand hygiene-intervention practices can lower mortality, antibiotic prescription rates in nursing homes. ScienceDaily. Retrieved February 25, 2018 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/02/180214150230.htm