A pragmatic randomized controlled trial of 6-step vs 3-step hand hygiene technique in acute hospital care in the United Kingdom

Reilly, Jacqui S. and Price, Lesley and Lang, Sue and Robertson, Chris and Cheater, Francine and Skinner, Kirsty and Chow, Angela (2016) A pragmatic randomized controlled trial of 6-step vs 3-step hand hygiene technique in acute hospital care in the United Kingdom. Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology, 37 (6). pp. 661-666. ISSN 0899-823X

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    Abstract

    OBJECTIVE To evaluate the microbiologic effectiveness of the World Health Organization's 6-step and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's 3-step hand hygiene techniques using alcohol-based handrub. DESIGN A parallel group randomized controlled trial. SETTING An acute care inner-city teaching hospital (Glasgow). PARTICIPANTS Doctors (n=42) and nurses (n=78) undertaking direct patient care. INTERVENTION Random 1:1 allocation of the 6-step (n=60) or the 3-step (n=60) technique. RESULTS The 6-step technique was microbiologically more effective at reducing the median log10 bacterial count. The 6-step technique reduced the count from 3.28 CFU/mL (95% CI, 3.11-3.38 CFU/mL) to 2.58 CFU/mL (2.08-2.93 CFU/mL), whereas the 3-step reduced it from 3.08 CFU/mL (2.977-3.27 CFU/mL) to 2.88 CFU/mL (-2.58 to 3.15 CFU/mL) (P=.02). However, the 6-step technique did not increase the total hand coverage area (98.8% vs 99.0%, P=.15) and required 15% (95% CI, 6%-24%) more time (42.50 seconds vs 35.0 seconds, P=.002). Total hand coverage was not related to the reduction in bacterial count. CONCLUSIONS Two techniques for hand hygiene using alcohol-based handrub are promoted in international guidance, the 6-step by the World Health Organization and 3-step by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The study provides the first evidence in a randomized controlled trial that the 6-step technique is superior, thus these international guidance documents should consider this evidence, as should healthcare organizations using the 3-step technique in practice.