Hospital docs need help on hand hygiene

Doctors at most public hospitals are failing to follow national hand hygiene guidelines, whereas nurses get a gold star, a new study shows.

This is because the current five-step approach was too complex, said Professor Mary-Louise McLaws, an infectious diseases expert at the University of NSW.

Her study focused on how regularly health workers wash their hands before seeing a patient, which is the first hand-hygiene opportunity in the five-step plan adopted in Australia in 2009.

The approach should be simplified to focus on washing hands before and after seeing each patient, said Professor McLaws, who has published a report in the Medical Journal of Australia.

Human instinct will take care of other protocols, such as washing after coming into contact with bodily fluids.

"We need to simplify it. Five behaviour changes were thrown at the doctors and nurses all at once,