Systematic review of studies on compliance with hand hygiene guidelines in hospital care.
PURPOSE This study examined physician hygiene patterns in the eye clinic of a major medical center to assess compliance with recommended practice patterns to avoid nosocomial infection during patient encounters. METHODS One hundred ophthalmology resident-patient encounters were observed anonymously by the authors. Examining physicians were evaluated in handwashing between patients, cleaning and disinfecting of tonometer tips after each use, and recapping of diagnostic drop bottles after each use. RESULTS Physicians washed their hands 74% of the time between patient encounters. The surfaces of tonometer tips were disinfected with an alcohol pad 100% of the time. Diagnostic drop bottles were recapped 57% of the time after each use. CONCLUSIONS There is ample clinical evidence in the ophthalmic literature that practitioners' hands and tonometer tips can be vectors for transmission of nosocomial infection and that vigorous handwashing and disinfection of instruments can decrease the rates of transmission. Sometimes, however, physicians neglect to follow these simple and effective steps. We suggest posting visual educational materials in examination rooms as a reminder to ophthalmology residents and clinic personnel to adhere to these precautions, benefiting doctors and patients.