German medical students need hand holding for hand washing
By: Emilie Green
Four out of five medical students do not know when to clean their hands in a clinical setting, show the results of a survey.
For the survey, by a team at Hannover Medical School in Germany, 85 third year medical students were presented with clinical scenarios that either warranted or did not warrant the use of alcohol hand gel. Overall, 79% failed to recognise the correct indications for using the gel.
Many of the students surveyed believe that good hand hygiene is inversely proportional to the level of training and increasing age of the physician responsible for training students. Those predominantly responsible for training medical students might not be setting a good example.
Karolin Graf, one of the study authors, suggests that senior healthcare professionals need to set a good example, “There is no doubt that we need to improve the overall attitude toward the use of alcohol-based hand rub in hospitals. To achieve this goal, the adequate behaviour of so-called “role models” is of particular importance,” she said.
Despite the initiation of the German Clean Hands Campaign in 2008, this study shows that hand hygiene remains inadequate. The authors recommend adapting the six year medical degree programme so that students are educated on infection control issues more often and in more detail.
A report published in June 2009 by the National Audit Office said doctors working in UK hospitals are less likely to comply with good infection control practice than nurses. The report also states that some doctors, particularly those in their foundation years, remain unaware of the link between hand hygiene and hospital-acquired infections.