ABHR is the hand hygiene product of choice

ABHR is the gold standard of care for HH practice in healthcare settings, whereas handwashing is reserved for situations when hands are visibly soiled, or when gloves have not been worn in the care of a patient with C. difficile) (3).

ABHR is the hand hygiene product of choice for all standard aseptic non-touch technique (ANTT) procedures. Surgical scrub is required for surgical ANTT. For definitions on standard vs. surgical ANTT see Section 1.7.3 of the 2010 Australian Guidelines for the Prevention and Control of Infections in Healthcare (68).
ABHR is also the recommended product for the prevention of intravascular catheter related infections (74).

Alcohol Based Hand Rubs

Alcohol-based hand rubs are more effective against most bacteria and many viruses than either medicated or non-medicated soaps (see figure 1 below). 

Figure 1: Effectiveness of different HH products in reducing bacterial counts after 30 sec. use.

Recent research (1,3), has demonstrated that ABHRs are better than traditional soap and water because they:

  • Require less time to use
  • Result in a significantly greater reduction in bacterial numbers than soap and water in many clinical situations (7)
  • Cause less irritation to the skin
  • Can be made readily accessible to HCWs
  • Are more cost effective (8, 9)

HCWs must perform HH before and after every patient contact to prevent patients becoming colonised with nosocomial pathogens from other patients and the hospital environment. Emphasis must also be placed on preventing the transfer of organisms from a contaminated body site to a clean body site during patient care. The latest guidelines also recommend HH after contact with inanimate objects, including medical charts and equipment in the immediate vicinity of the patient (3)

There is no maximum number of times that ABHR can be used before hands need to be washed with soap and water (24).