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Evaluation of Handwashing Behaviors and Analysis of Hand Flora of Intensive Care Unit Nurses

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      Purpose

      The aim of this study was to evaluate the handwashing behaviors of intensive care nurses based on personal statements, and to identify the microorganisms represented in the hand flora preshift and postshift.

      Methods

      This prospective study was performed with 60 intensive care nurses between January and December 2008, at a training and research hospital at a university in Turkey. Samples were taken from the hands of the nurses for bacteriological culture, using the bag-broth method, at the beginning and end of the shift. The samples were cultured aerobically and the colonies that grew were counted and identified. The nurses completed a self-report questionnaire, and their answers were evaluated.

      Results

      The frequency of handwashing by participants during each shift was 32.8±13.9. Overall, 65% of the nurses preferred alcohol-based antiseptic solutions for handwashing, 95% used paper towels to dry their hands, and 98.3–100% of the nurses washed their hands after performing care procedures. The Escherichia coli and coagulase negative Staphylococcus species were found to be at significantly higher levels in the postshift hand culture samples when compared to the preshift hand culture sample values. Enterobacter cloacae was the only species found in the postshift hand culture samples of the nurses.

      Conclusions

      The number of colonies of the microorganisms in the hand flora of the nurses increased postshift. The handwashing behavior of intensive care nurses must be improved as they nurse critical patients.

      Key Words

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