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Post-print of van de Mortel, TF & Murgo, M 2005, 'Hand hygiene competence in the intensive care unit', Australian Infection Control, vol. 10, no. 2, pp. 46-50.

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The hand hygiene knowledge and competence of staff in an adult intensive care unit (ICU) was measured at a 450 bed Australian metropolitan teaching hospital. Staff working in or entering the ICU to perform patient care over a two-month period were asked to complete a questionnaire that examined their knowledge of current hand hygiene policy and procedures. Hand hygiene practice was also assessed by observation. Sixty-six staff participated, including 50 registered nurses (RNs), eight medical staff (MOs), five surgical dressers (SDs) and three radiographers (X-Ray technicians). Radiographers were excluded from the statistical analysis due to low numbers participating. Scores on the knowledge component of the questionnaire ranged from 5-10/10 (mean 7.39 ± 1.04 std dev). Scores on the practical component ranged from 3-6/6 (mean 5.83 ± 0.56). Mean knowledge scores by profession were: 7.75 (MOs), 7.38 (RNs), and 6.60 (SDs). Mean competence scores by profession were: 5.75 (MOs), 5.88 (RNs), and 5.80 (SDs). There were no significant differences in hand hygiene knowledge (p = 0.178) and hand hygiene competence between professions (p = 0.780). The greatest knowledge deficit lay in what constituted a routine handwash and in which situations routine handwashing was required.

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