It is generally accepted that hand hygiene with alcohol-based hand disinfectants is the most effective measure for preventing healthcare-associated infections . It is obvious that adequate hand hygiene for employees in health care facilities is only practicable if sufficient hand disinfectant dispensers are available at suitable locations. So far, however, only the German Robert Koch-Institute (RKI) has issued recommendations on the number of hand disinfectant dispensers and recommends at least one dispenser per bed in intensive care units or 0.5 per bed in normal wards. In contrast, neither the World Health Organisation (WHO) nor the American Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) nor the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) have made such recommendations in their respective guidelines. In order to provide a basis for setting national and international minimum standards, a research group led by Professor Andreas Widmer of the SwissnosoNational Centre for Infection Prevention investigated the current number and locations of hand disinfectant dispensers in Swiss acute hospitals .
Survey-based results based on 20,000 acute care beds
The study was based on a survey using an anonymised and standardised questionnaire (adapted from the PROHIBIT study), sent to all 178 hospitals in the Swissnoso Surveillance Network between July and September 2019. Certified infection control and hospital epidemiology specialists collected data on the number of dispensers per bed, the location of the dispensers and hand disinfectant consumption using electronic and paper-based tools. A total of 110 hospitals (62%) participated, providing information on the supply of about 20,000 acute care beds in Switzerland.
Room entrance and washbasin proximity as preferred location for dispensers
In most hospitals, hand disinfectant dispensers were found at the entrance to the room (n = 92, 84 %) and near the washbasin (n = 81, 74 %). In just under half of the hospitals, dispensers were available near or at the bedside. While wall dispensers dominated in three quarters of the participating hospitals, only a quarter mainly offered gown bottles. However, the latter were mostly additionally available in 97 % of the hospitals.