UCL News


One ml of alcohol hand rub reduces MRSA by one percent

3 December 2008

Hospitals are ordering three times as much soap and alcohol hand rub than in 2004, according to the first results of an independent evaluation of the cleanyourhands campaign to boost hand-cleaning in hospital wards.

The preliminary findings, presented today by UCL (University College London) researchers at a conference in Cardiff, also showed that each extra ml of alcohol hand rub per patient per day is associated with a one percent reduction in MRSA.

The cleanyourhands campaign is the first national campaign in the world to target healthcare workers in all acute hospitals in a country's healthcare system. Coordinated by the National Patient Safety Agency and rolled out to all 187 acute NHS Trusts in England and Wales from 2004, the campaign consists of getting alcohol hand rubs to each bedside, posters on the wards, patient empowerment materials and audit/feedback. The NOSEC study (national study to evaluate the cleanyourhands campaign) reports on its three-year findings at this year's Federation of Infection Societies meeting.

The collaborative study, led by Dr Sheldon Stone of the Royal Free Campus of the UCL Medical School, found a three-fold rise in procurement of alcohol hand rub and soap over the period 2004-2007. Combined soap and alcohol rub procurement rose from 20 ml per patient-bed-day (July 2004) to 37 ml (July 2005-June 2006) to 65 ml (December 2007). The study also found a strong correlation between each extra ml of alcohol hand rub per patient bed day and a one percent fall in MRSA bacteraemia.

Dr Sheldon Stone, UCL Medical School, says: "Our study shows that hand-hygiene lowers hospital superbugs, and our message to healthcare workers is: "one ml….one percent."

"The findings also serve as a reminder that we should be washing our hands in the home and workplace. Winter is the season when colds and flus abound, and people can protect themselves and stop germs from spreading by frequently washing their hands."

The study was led by the UCL Medical School in collaboration with the Health Protection Agency, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and the Hand-Hygiene Liaison Group. It was funded by a Patient Safety Research Grant.

The Federation of Infection Societies Scientific Meeting 2008 is being held on 2-4 December in Cardiff at City Hall. The UCL findings are being presented as part of the poster presentation session at the conference.

Notes for Editors

1. For more information, please contact Dr Sheldon Stone on mobile: +44 (0)7801 258 061, email s.stone@medsch.ucl.ac.uk.

2. Alternatively, please contact Dave Weston in the UCL Media Relations Office on tel: +44 (0)20 7679 7678, out of hours +44 (0)7917 271 364, e-mail: d.weston@ucl.ac.uk. Copies of the conference handout and abstract on the research can be obtained from the UCL Media Relations Office.

3. More information on the cleanyourhands campaign can be found at www.npsa.nhs.uk/cleanyourhands/.

4. More information on the conference can be found at http://www.fis2008.co.uk/.