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Hand hygiene the focus of new infection control guidelines

22 January 2014

A major new piece of national guidance on infection prevention and control is urging hospitals to do more to promote hand hygiene among both nursing staff and patients.

The guidance includes a five-point protocol on hand decontamination for staff, which is based on the World Health Organization’s Five Moments for Hand Hygiene initiative.

It also states that the most effective hand hygiene campaigns are those that engage staff or use social marketing to catch people's attention – for example, using videos, posters and other media with hard hitting slogans and images.

These are among new recommendations in the Epic3 guidance, which was commissioned by the Department of Health and developed by a nurse-led group of experts. It updates a previous version of the Epic guidance from 2007 and is published in the Journal of Hospital Infection.

Lead author Professor Heather Loveday, from the University of West London, said it provided the "best available scientific evidence for preventing healthcare infections in hospitals”.

But she added: "Guidelines are only of use when translated into local policy and protocols by infection prevention teams and implemented consistently by all healthcare professionals in order to reduce variation in patient care.”