To help raise awareness about the importance of hand hygiene in healthcare settings, leading global hygiene and health company Essity, together with RISE (Research Institutes of Sweden) is proud to share new research looking at the prevalence of bacteria found within patient surroundings. The two-year study was a multi-partner study involving Essity researchers, healthcare institutions and research institutes. The study was sponsored by Vinnova, the Swedish government agency responsible for promoting sustainable growth through innovation and looked at the importance of textile materials and surfaces in the patient surroundings as possible sources of healthcare associated infections (HAI’s).
Sanitizing hands after touching patient surroundings needs to be emphasized
Using DNA sampling, researchers examined the bacterial community found on surfaces in the patient’s immediate surroundings: the surfaces included textiles, such as privacy curtains or bedding in neonatal incubators; patient bed guardrails; and floors in patient wards, toilets and showers. The examined surfaces harbored a wide variety of bacteria, some of which are potential pathogens. The findings emphasize the need for proper hand hygiene according to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) 5th moment. Unfortunately, according to the American Journal of Infection Control, hand hygiene compliance in healthcare settings tends to be the lowest for the fifth moment (1). Only 60% of healthcare workers clearly recognize and follow this step so this study helps to highlight the importance of sanitizing hands also after touching patient surroundings.
“Our study shows that near-patient surfaces can harbor potentially pathogenic bacteria; proper hand hygiene after contact with surfaces can help prevent cross-contamination and potentially help reduce HAI’s” says Birgitta Bergström, Msc, Microbiology and hygiene at RISE Agrifood and Bioscience.
Cleaning procedures, education and dispenser placement are key
In an earlier 3-year study with 16 hospitals supported by Tork, 60% of healthcare workers considered dispenser placement as a main contributor to better compliance for long term results.
“The ACCOMPLISH study* has shown that it is important to look at hand hygiene moments from the healthcare worker perspective and tasks, making it as easy as possible to comply with the 5 moments also including easy access and logical placement of dispensers, a small change that can have a big impact” says Carolyn Berland, Senior scientist with R&D, Essity.
The Tork skincare dispensers used in the Accomplish study are a part of the overall hand hygiene offer from Tork for healthcare. The solutions cover the full range from washing and drying to sanitizing and moisturizing. Given how crucial frequent hand hygiene praxis is amongst healthcare workers, the selection of products is optimized to be as gentle, efficient and quick to use as possible.
To encourage compliance and help prevent infection spread, Tork recommends the following actions:
• Educate staff and visitors about the importance of and the rationale for the 5th moment in hand hygiene. Health care workers can test their hand hygiene knowledge by taking a online quiz at
• Have clear, detailed routines for cleaning patient areas
• Clean patient textiles frequently and consider when disposable textiles can be helpful
Promoting World Hand Hygiene Day for health care workers
According to WHO, HAIs remain a major problem. Good hand hygiene is widely considered the single-most important method of reducing these infections(2). Therefore each year the WHO with the help of POPS (Private Organizations for Patient Safety)* participants highlights the importance of hand hygiene on the WHO hand hygiene day, 5th of May. Essity is a proud participant of this program.
To boost hand hygiene practices, the WHO developed “Five Moments for Hand Hygiene” which highlights key times when healthcare workers should sanitize their hands. These moments include hand sanitizing before touching a patient, before clean/aseptic procedures, after body fluid exposure/risk, after touching a patient and after touching patient surroundings. Visit the WHO global campaign site more useful tools and information.
“Healthcare workers are busy people trying hard to protect their patients’ health. They need and deserve our support to be able to perform hand hygiene quickly and easily when needed “, says Carolyn Berland, Senior Scientist at Essity. World hand hygiene day can give these professionals an added boost in the difficult task of maintaining high compliance.
For more information about Essity’s work on supporting hygiene for everyday life, visit www.HygieneMatters.com
For more information on Essity, please contact Diane Engler
For more information about Tork or press images, please contact Toru Levinson
(1) American Journal of Infection Control. “Toward improving the World Health Organization fifth moment for hand hygiene in the prevention of cross-infection.”
About the Essity and Vinnova Study
To learn how to decrease healthcare-associated infections (HAIs), Essity was one of the main contributors to Vinnova’s two-year study involving thirteen partners including hospitals, research institutes and private companies. Essity invested more than 2,000 hours in helping to make the project a success.
About RISE Agrifood and Bioscience
Agrifood and Bioscience is a unit that is part of RISE (Research Institutes of Sweden). The unit has about 130 employees and conducts research and innovation throughout the food chain, from primary agricultural production over the processing industry and retail, all the way to the consumer level. We develop and implement next-generation technologies for primary and food production, and are operating for development of requested safe, healthy and sustainable food. RISE consists of former institutes Innventia, SP, and Swedish ICT with totally 2,200 employees and is owned by the Swedish state. More information at www.ri.se
About World Hand Hygiene Day
World Hand Hygiene Day is a campaign by the World Health Organization (WHO) to promote hand hygiene in healthcare settings annually on May 5th. The goal of these efforts is to improve healthcare provider compliance to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as well as WHO hand hygiene recommendations. Activities surrounding World Hand Hygiene Day also address and clarify misperceptions about hand hygiene.
The Tork brand offers professional hygiene products and services to customers ranging from restaurants and healthcare facilities to offices, schools and industries. Products include dispensers, paper towels, toilet tissue, soap, napkins, and industrial and kitchen wipers. Through expertise in hygiene, functional design and sustainability, Tork has become a market leader. Tork is a global brand of Essity, and a committed partner to customers in over 80 countries. To keep up with the latest Tork news and innovations, please visit: www.torkusa.com/about/press-releases/
Essity is a leading global hygiene and health company that develops, produces and sells Personal Care (Baby Care, Feminine Care, Incontinence Products and Medical Solutions), Consumer Tissue and Professional Hygiene products and solutions. More information at www.essity.com.