Marsha Wallander, RN, is assistant director, accreditation services, for the Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care.
Q: Is it acceptable for healthcare workers to use non-alcohol hand sanitizer for routine (non-surgical/operating room) hand hygiene?
Marsha Wallander: There are non-alcohol-based hand hygiene products on the market. Like most things in life, there are pros and cons associated with each antiseptic agent. For example, Triclosan is only rated good at best for Gram positive and Gram negative bacteria and, interestingly enough, it is prone to contamination buildup itself by these same organisms.
My best advice would be to spend 30 minutes with the vendor to learn the benefits and negatives of each product type including the CDC recommended hand sanitizers containing >60 percent alcohol content before making a decision.
Here is a link to the CDC's "Guideline for Hand Hygiene in Health-Care Settings": www.cdc.gov/mmwr/PDF/rr/rr5116.pdf. On p. 10 begins the comparison of the various alcohol and non-alcohol antiseptic agents which may be useful for you to review.
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