Importance of hand germ contamination in health-care workers as possible carriers of nosocomial infections

Importância da contaminação das mãos por germes, em trabalhadores da saúde, como possíveis transmissores de infecções hospitalares

The importance of hands in the transmission of nosocomial infection has been world wide admitted. However, it is difficult to induce this behavior in health-care workers. The aim of the present work was to point out the importance of hand bacteria colonization, the influence of hand washing and of patient physical examination. One hundred health-care workers were randomly divided in two groups: Group A without hand washing previous to patient physical examination or handling (PPE); group B with hand washing previous to PPE. Direct fingerprint samples in Columbia agar before and after PPE were obtained. The colonies were counted and identified by conventional techniques, and antibiograms according to NCCLS were performed. Before PPE group A participants showed a high number of bacteria regarding group B participants (73.9 Vs 20.7; p < 0.001); 44 out of 50 participants were carriers of potentially pathogen bacteria. No group B participants were carriers of potential pathogen bacteria before PPE. The latter group showed an increase in number of bacteria after PPE (20.7 CFU (before) Vs 115.9 CFU (after); p < 0.001). Sixteen group B participants were contaminated after PPE with potential pathogens such as S. aureus (50% of them meticillin resistant); Escherichia coli, Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Enterococcus faecalis, half of them multiresistant. We can conclude on the importance of these results to implement educational programs and to provide the health-care workers with the proper commodities to fulfill this practice.

Hand washing; Hospital infection; Colonization

Instituto de Medicina Tropical de São Paulo Av. Dr. Enéas de Carvalho Aguiar, 470, 05403-000 - São Paulo - SP - Brazil, Tel. +55 11 3061-7005 - São Paulo - SP - Brazil