Good hand hygiene is one of the most important (and easiest) ways to prevent the spread of infections. According to Infection Control Today, approximately 1.7 million hospital patients contract Healthcare Associated Infections (HAI) each year. HAI cost more Americans their lives than breast cancer and HIV/AIDS combined, accounting for nearly 99,000 deaths. Many of these infections are preventable.
Our recent patient satisfaction surveys indicated that patients are aware of hand hygiene (or lack thereof) in chiropractic clinics. Most chiropractic clinics don’t have sinks in the treatment rooms, so your patients don’t usually see you washing your hands before treating them. Therefore your patients are uncertain about hand hygiene because they have no evidence of it. Since most chiropractic clinics don’t have the resources to add hand-washing sinks or stations in treatment rooms; I recommend the cost effective option of using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer in the room with the patient. I’ve reviewed research on the safety and effectiveness of hand sanitizers, and it appears that there are some things to keep in mind about them:
- Hand sanitizers that contain triclosan and triclocarban should be avoided as they may encourage the growth of drug-resistant bacteria and super-bugs. Additionally, they can disrupt the endocrine system; interfere with the thyroid hormone T4; impact estrogen and testosterone; and harm the immune system
- Alcohol-based sanitizers are effective at killing many bacterial pathogens and some viruses, and they do not create super-bacteria.
- Following is a list of some hand sanitizers that do not contain triclosan or triclocarban:
- Seventh Generation
- Mrs. Myers
- Nature’s Gate
- Purell Instant Hand Sanitizer
- Listerine Essential Care
I’m going to continue my research and will update you as I learn more about products and procedures that can help us ensure hygiene in our clinics. The CDC has some great information on hand hygiene here. I’d love to hear from you – what are you doing to keep your clinic hygienic?