Effectiveness of hand hygiene depends on the patient’s health condition and care environment

Junko Okada, Yukiko Yamamizu, Kiyoko Fukai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Aim: The present authors examined how patient hand contamination was associated with underlying disease and treatment environment in order to determine effective hand hygiene methods. Methods: Samples were collected from inpatients (45 with hematological malignancies, 48 postoperative), outpatients (48 undergoing hemodialysis, 55 on chemotherapy), and 44 individuals living in nursing homes. All participants provided informed consent for study participation. All subjects performed hand hygiene. Before and after hand hygiene, samples of bacteria were collected from the palm of the hand onto agar media. Bacteria were counted and bacterial strains were identified. The authors then collected smear samples from the contralateral palm and measured adenosine triphosphate (ATP) levels. Results: Patient hand contamination was the highest in hemodialysis patients, followed by residents of nursing homes, postoperative patients, patients with cancer receiving chemotherapy, and patients of hematological malignancies. Regardless of the underlying disease and treatment environment, patients were able to reduce the number of bacterial colonies and ATP by proper hand hygiene. Compared with wet wipes, hand washing seemed to remove bacteria more effectively. Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) was detected in 30 subjects, none of whom were patients of hematological malignancies. Of these, 19 tested negative for MRSA after performing proper hand hygiene. Conclusion: Patient hand contamination is affected by underlying disease and care environment, but can be reduced by encouraging proper hand washing. Proper patient hand hygiene can reduce MRSA on patients' hands, and thus may serve as an effective tool for prevention of healthcare-associated infections.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)413-423
Number of pages11
JournalJapan Journal of Nursing Science
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Oct 1 2016


  • hand contamination
  • hand hygiene
  • inpatients
  • outpatients
  • skin flora of hands

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Research and Theory


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