In this section :

The Need for Better Hand Hygiene in Healthcare

Hand hygiene, a very simple action, remains the primary means to reduce the spread of infections.  

Healthcare-associated infections, or infections acquired in health-care settings are the most frequent adverse event in healthcare delivery worldwide. 

Hundreds of millions of patients are affected by healthcare-associated infections worldwide each year, leading to significant mortality and financial losses for health systems.1 

Of every 100 hospitalized patients at any given time, 7 in developed and 10 in developing countries will acquire at least one health care-associated infection.1 

Infection prevention and control measures, such as appropriate hand hygiene and the correct application of basic precautions during invasive procedures, can reduce HCAI by at least 50%.2 

Compliance by healthcare workers with optimal hand hygiene in different health-care facilities has been shown to be to be less than 40%.2,3   

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends using an alcohol-based hand rub for routine antisepsis in most clinical situations where hands are not visibly soiled.   

Proper hand hygiene, when demonstrated by leaders, has been shown to positively influence the compliance of others by up to 70%.  

World Health Organization (WHO). n.d. Healthcare-Associated Infections Fact Sheet. Retrieved July 10, 2019. <>.

2 World Health Organization (WHO). n.d. Slides for Education Sessions for Trainers, Observers and Health-care Workers (revised 2009). Retrieved March 17, 2020. <>.   

3 Gautham, S., & Cahill, J., "National Patient Safety Goals. How 'User Friendly' is the Hospital for Practicing Hand Hygiene?: An Ergonomic Evaluation." The Joint Commision Journal on Quality and Patient Safety. 2004; 33 (3).   

4 Roth, V. "Hands that harm, hands that heal".  2006; Power point presentation, slide 33