Hand Washing Protocols Decreasing Nursing Home Deaths

According to new study published in the February American Journal of Infection Control, researchers found that implementing simple hand-washing protocols in nursing homes help prevent the spread of deadly infections.

The study showed that if nursing home employees exercise the hand washing techniques that are already in practice in hospitals, the spread of deadly infections can be lowered dramatically.  Lowering the spread of these infections significantly lowers death rates for nursing home residents and also lowers the amount of antibiotics that need to be prescribed to those residents.

United States nursing homes experience around 3 million infections yearly and those infections are one of the leading causes of death in nursing facilities. Infections also add around $1 billion in extra healthcare costs, according to the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology.


The research focused on 26 nursing homes in France from April 2014 to April 2015.  13 nursing homes were randomly assigned to an intervention group and the other 13 were assigned to a control group.  The staff as well as residents, visitors and outside providers from the intervention group were trained on proper hand-washing techniques. This included giving them greater access to hand sanitizer, launching a campaign to promote hand hygiene, and forming localized work groups at each facility to methodically examine guidelines and educate employees.

The yearlong study found that the intervention group experienced around a 21% lower death rate (about 2.1 deaths per 100 residents each month, versus 2.65 in the control group). Antibiotic prescriptions dropped almost 14% for the intervention group. The prescriptions dropped to about 5 daily doses per 100 resident days from 5.8 doses in the control group.

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