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Hand Hygiene: Infection Control/Exposure Control Issues for Oral Healthcare Workers

Géza T. Terézhalmy, DDS, MA; Michaell A. Huber, DDS

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Factors that contribute to poor hand hygiene practices among HCP include (1) lack of knowledge about the importance of hand hygiene, i.e., how hands become contaminated with microorganisms and spread infection, (2) lack of understanding of correct hand hygiene techniques, (3) lack of access to appropriate hand hygiene products, (4) irritant and allergic contact dermatitis, and (5) lack of institutional commitment to good hand hygiene practices.

The most effective hand hygiene technique, if the hands are not visibly soiled, is the routine use of an alcohol-based handrub.  Alcohol-based handrub has been shown to be more effective in reducing the number of viable bacteria, viruses, and fungi on hands than a plain or an antimicrobial soap and water; require less time to use; can be made available at the point of care; cause less hand irritation and dryness with repeated use; and improves compliance with hand hygiene standards.

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