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Hand hygiene efforts may lead to increased infection risk

Accreditation Insider, February 17, 2015

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The idea behind hand hygiene compliance efforts is to reduce the risk of infection in healthcare facilities. But a new study found an ironic consequence of improved hand washing habits among healthcare workers is an increase in dermatitis, which can in turn lead to a greater risk of infection.

Conducted at the University of Manchester, the study analyzed United Kingdom dermatologists’ reports collected in a database from 1996 to 2012; the database tracks skin problems caused or worsened in the workplace.

Of 7,138 cases of irritant contact dermatitis, nearly 1,800 were healthcare workers, who were found to be 4.5 times more likely to develop dermatitis in 2012 as in 1996. The condition leads to damaged or broken skin, which is more susceptible to infections. Researchers said the increase coincides with a national U.K. campaign to improve healthcare workers’ hand hygiene.

Read the study abstract here.



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