Surgeons Worse at Hand Hygiene Than Anesthesiologists, Study Finds

Hand hygiene using alcohol-based handrub solution is essential for the prevention of surgical site infections. There are several opportunities for hygienic hand disinfection during immediate pre-, intra- and postoperative orthopedic patient care; however, the level of hand hygiene compliance among surgical and anesthesia staff in this context is unclear. Baier, et al. (2022) conducted an observational study in operating theatres of an orthopedic university clinic in northern Germany during July and August 2020.

One trained person directly and comprehensively observed hand hygiene compliance of surgical and anesthesia staff according to the WHO “My 5 moments for hand hygiene” model (WHO-5). In addition to cross-tabulations with Chi2 tests, multiple logistic regression models were used to study associations between occupational group, medical specialty, and compliance (both overall and for each WHO-5 indication). Models were adjusted for hand hygiene opportunities being associated with female or male healthcare workers, being located within or outside the operation room, and occurring in adult or pediatric surgery.

In total, 1145 hand hygiene opportunities during 16 surgeries were observed. The overall compliance was 40.8% (95% CI 37.9–43.6%), with a larger difference between surgical versus anesthesia staff (28.4% vs. 46.1%, p < 0.001) than between physicians versus nurses (38.5% vs. 42.9%, p = 0.13). Adjusting for sex, place of observation, and adult versus pediatric operation theatre, logistic regression analyses revealed a significant interaction between medical specialty and occupational group (p < 0.001). In particular, the odds for compliance were higher for anesthesiologists (47.9%) than for surgeons (19.6%) (OR = 4.8, 95% CI 3.0–7.6). In addition, compliance was higher in pediatric surgery (OR = 1.9, 95% CI 1.4–2.6). In general, WHO-5-stratified results were in line with these overall patterns.

Hygienic hand disinfection compliance was approximately 41%. Notably, surgeons performed worse than anesthesiologists did. These results indicate that hand hygiene compliance in orthopedic surgery needs to be improved. Tailored interventions promise to be an appropriate way to address each occupational group’s specific needs.

Reference: Baier C, et al. Compliance with hand disinfection in the surgical area of an orthopedic university clinic: results of an observational study. Antimicrobial Resistance & Infection Control. Vol. 11, article number 22 (2022).