Physicians More Likely to Wash Hands to Protect Patients

Physicians are more likely to wash their hands when they are reminded that they endanger patients when they ignore the directive, study conducted by researchers from the University of Pennsylvania and the University of North Carolina and reported in The Atlantic.

The researchers measured the amount of soap or sanitizing gel used from 66 dispenses available to physicians and nurses over a two-week period. They then refilled the dispensers, placed signs near them and measured how much was used over the next two weeks.

The researchers used three different signs to mark the dispensers:

1. Personal safety: Hand hygiene prevents you from catching diseases.
2. Patient safety: Hand hygiene prevents patients from catching diseases.
3. Control: Gel in, wash out.

The amount of soap used from dispensers with the patient safety sign increased by 45 percent in the two weeks after the sign was posted. The amount of soap used decreased from dispensers with personal safety signs.

The researchers found similar results when they observed the physicians directly.

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