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Scottish doctors under fire for poor hand hygiene

Published 17th February, 2010 by Neil Nixon

Scottish doctors under fire for poor hand hygiene

Doctors in Scotland were criticised recently for putting their patients at risk by not washing their hands enough on hospital wards. They failed to meet the hand hygiene target of 90% compliance set by the Scottish government.

The latest figures show the compliance rate for hand hygiene in hospitals had increased to 94% among all workers, but there were large discrepancies between different staff groups, with doctors singled out as the worst offenders.

Andrew Large, chief executive of the Cleaning and Support Services Association, said: "It is a matter of serious concern that doctors are lagging behind when it comes to washing their hands. Hospital acquired infections cost lives, and doctors should be setting an example for other health workers to follow."

Meanwhile, the Journal of Hospital Infection published a report stating that the UK’s HAI infection rates are amongst the highest in Europe. The report stated that ‘Scotland and the rest of the UK continue to have relatively high rates of MRSA, in common with Mediterranean countries, Romania and Ireland. MRSA is a particular challenge in hospitals, as patients with wounds, invasive devices and weakened immune systems are at greater risk of infection than the general public’.

Steve Wright, chairman of the British Cleaning Council, said: “This report reinforces the central role of infection control procedures, and shows that the UK still has some way to go to reduce its infection rates to an acceptable level. Good hand-hygiene coupled with increased cleaning staff are two of the most effective ways of managing the threat of HAIs; we ask that hospitals are given the resources they need to ensure that they can minimise the risk they pose to patients as much as possible.”