Paramedics' handwashing habits 'remarkably low'

Reliance on gloves indicates a tendency towards self-protection instead of patient protection, say researchers

Paramedics' handwashing habits have been found wanting, with their adherence to simple standards to protect patients from infection “remarkably low”, a study including Australian workers has found.

In most cases, paramedics failed to carry out hand washing measures that would protect the patient from infection, but were more likely to stick to guidelines that promoted self-protection, the authors write.

In the study of paramedics’ compliance with hand hygiene standards in Denmark, Finland, Sweden and Australia, researchers found gloves were worn in more than half of all hand hygiene situations.

Among Australian paramedics, the researchers found a high rate (89%) of continuous use of the same pair of gloves instead of wearing new ones in between procedures.

“Hand hygiene compliance among emergency medical service providers was remarkably low, and higher after patient encounters