Researchers Say ABHR Dispensers Should be Regularly Audited to Control the Reference Volume Distributed

Hand hygiene can only be efficient if the whole hand surface is treated with sufficient alcohol-based handrub (ABHR); therefore, the volume of handrub applied is a critical factor in patient safety. The proper amount of ABHR should be provided by handrub dispensers. The aim of this study by Bánsághi, et al. (2020) was to investigate the dispensing performance of wall-mounted ABHR dispensers commonly employed in hospital settings.

In a multicenter study, the researchers tested 46 dispensers (22 in laboratory and 24 in clinical environments), measuring dispensed ABHR volume during continuous use and after a period of non-use. The influence of the pumping mechanism, liquid level, ABHR formats, handrub composition, temperature, and atmospheric pressure was investigated.

A total of 7 out of the 22 investigated dispensers (32%) lost a significant amount of handrub; greater than 30% of the nominal volume after 8 h of non-use, thus frequently dispensing suboptimal volume, as measured in laboratory settings. Key influencing factors were found to be handrub format (gel or liquid), handrub level in the container and type of dispenser. When gel ABHR was used, after 4 h of non-use of the dispensers, the volume of the dispensed amount of ABHR insignificantly changed (97% of the original amount), while it technically decreased to zero in the case of liquid ABHR (1% of the original amount). The liquid level had a medium effect on the dispensed volume in each investigated case; the magnitude of this effect varied widely depending on the dispensing mechanism. When dispensers were in continuous use, they dispensed a cumulated 3 mL of ABHR from two consecutive pushes, while when they were not in use for 1 h, up to 4 consecutive pushes were necessary to provide a total of 3 mL ABHR. Design and production quality were also identified as important contributing factors with respect to the volume dispensed. Data collected in clinical settings confirmed these findings, for multiple types of dispensers.

The researchers conclude that all ABHR dispensers should be regularly audited to control the reference volume distributed, with particular attention paid to regular mechanical pump units filled with liquid handrub.

Reference: Bánsághi S, et al. Critical Reliability Issues of Common Type Alcohol-Based Handrub Dispensers. Antimicrobial Resistance & Infection Control. Vol. 9, No. 90. 2020.

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