Study finds 5x increase in hand sanitizer use when located in hospital high-traffic area

Greenville, S.C.–Placing alcohol-based hand sanitizers (AHS) in the middle of a hospital lobby floor in front of the visitor entrance increased visitor usage by 528 percent, according to a study published in the March issue of the American Journal of Infection Control, the official publication of the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC).

 Researchers from Clemson University and the Greenville Health System conducted a three-week observational study at Greenville Memorial Hospital, in which they observed the AHS use of more than 6,600 visitors. They found usage of the hand sanitizer was 5.28 times higher when the dispenser was in the middle of the entrance versus near the information desk off to the side of the lobby.

Additionally, the study found that children and young adults visiting the hospital were nearly 50 percent more likely to use alcohol-based hand sanitizer than older adults. Those in groups, versus visitors who entered the hospital alone, were almost 40 percent more likely to clean their hands with the product.

“Visitors represent an additional vector by which healthcare-associated diseases can be transmitted to patients, and thus visitor hand hygiene is an opportunity to further improve patient safety,” the study authors commented. “The study suggests many future research opportunities, including investigation into the effect of group dynamics and social pressure on visitor hand sanitizer utilization to identify strategies for improving visitor hand hygiene.”

The original location of the dispenser had zero visitor utilization and was not considered a possible study location. During the study period, the AHS dispenser was placed in a different location each week: (1) middle of the hospital entrance, right inside the revolving door; (2) in front of the information desk; and (3) between the main revolving door and the side door to the lobby. Visitors were observed during peak visiting hours (10-11:30 a.m. and 4-5:30 p.m.) on three different days each week.

Study authors:

 Mary A. Hobbs, BS

Department of Industrial Engineering

Clemson University, Clemson, SC

Susan Robinson, MS

Department of Industrial Engineering

Clemson University, Clemson, SC

 David M. Neyens PhD, MPH (Corresponding Author)

Department of Industrial Engineering

Clemson University, Clemson, SC

 Connie Steed, MSN, RN, CIC

Department of Infection Prevention and Control

Greenville Health System, Greenville, SC

About AJIC: American Journal of Infection Control

AJIC: American Journal of Infection Control (www.ajicjournal.org) covers key topics and issues in infection control and epidemiology. Infection preventionists, including physicians, nurses, and epidemiologists, rely on AJIC for peer-reviewed articles covering clinical topics as well as original research. As the official publication of APIC, AJIC is the foremost resource on infection control, epidemiology, infectious diseases, quality management, occupational health, and disease prevention. AJIC also publishes infection control guidelines from APIC and the CDC. Published by Elsevier, AJIC is included in MEDLINE and CINAHL.

 About APIC

APIC’s mission is to create a safer world through prevention of infection. The association’s more than 15,000 members direct infection prevention programs that save lives and improve the bottom line for hospitals and other healthcare facilities. APIC advances its mission through patient safety, implementation science, competencies and certification, advocacy, and data standardization. Visit APIC online at www.apic.org. Follow APIC on Twitter: https://twitter.com/apic and Facebook: www.facebook.com/APICInfectionPreventionandYou. For information on what patients and families can do, visit APIC’s Infection Prevention and You website at www.apic.org/infectionpreventionandyou.

About Greenville Health System
Greenville Health System (GHS) — an academic health system that is the largest not-for-profit healthcare delivery system in South Carolina — is committed to medical excellence through research, patient care and education. GHS offers patients an innovative network of clinical integration, expertise and technologies through its eight medical campuses, tertiary medical center, research and education facilities, community hospitals, physician practices and numerous specialty services throughout the Upstate. The 1,358-bed system is home to 15 medical residency and fellowship programs. GHS is also home to the University of South Carolina School of Medicine Greenville, a joint effort of USC and GHS. Visit ghs.org for more information.

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