Encouraging people to use soap and alcohol gel in hospitals saved the lives of around 10,000 people, according to a new report.
The study, published on the BMJ website, states that the campaign to improve hand hygiene in hospitals in England and Wales contributed to a significant fall in the rates of superbug infections.
The Clean Your Hands campaign, funded by the Department of Health, was introduced in all hospitals by June 2005, with the aim of wiping out C. difficile and MRSA.
It encouraged hospital visitors, patients and staff to wash their hands with soap or an alcohol gel when entering or leaving wards. People were also encouraged to clean their hands before touching patients, eating food and after going to the toilet.
Alcohol gels were put by bedsides, posters reminded staff to wash their hands, and regular checks were made to ensure hands were kept clean.
By 2008, the total amount of soap and alcohol gel purchased by hospitals trebled from 22ml per patient per day to 60ml per patient per day. In the same period, rates of MRSA more than halved in the same time period, and C. diff infections fell by more than 40%.
Sheldon Paul Stone, senior lecturer at UCL Medical School, who led the study, estimated that around 10,000 lives were saved because of the campaign, which ended in 2010.
A spokesman from the Department of Health said: "The Clean Your Hands campaign was successful in its aim to highlight the importance of good hand hygiene practice across the NHS. We know this has been successful.”
Most private hospitals have no incidence or MRSA or C. difficile. Browse our private hospital database to find a hospital near you, or compare health insurance policies online to get covered for private inpatient treatment.
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