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Nurses can combat antimicrobial resistance with six-step technique

Jacqui Reilly, an expert on antimicrobial resistance at Health Protection Scotland, told a conference what nurses can do to combat the growing problem.

Nurses can help to prevent the spread of antimicrobial resistance by improving hand hygiene, a health expert has urged.

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is an increasingly serious threat to global health, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), with 480,000 new cases of multi-drug resistant tuberculosis reported in 2013. 

Health Protection Scotland’s lead consultant for AMR, healthcare-associated infection and infection prevention and control Jacqui Reilly said nurses can help by practising effective hand hygiene.

The six steps to hand hygiene

Professor Reilly led a study last year at Glasgow Caledonian University, which showed the WHO’s six-step hand hygiene technique is best practice for healthcare workers. 

The method involves healthcare professionals covering their hands with an alcohol-based handrub and rubbing it into six different parts of the hand.

But Professor Reilly said despite having instructions on the technique in front of them and being observed during the study, only 65% of healthcare professionals taking part completed the entire hand hygiene process.

'There is something going on in human behaviour and we have not made it easy for healthcare workers,' she told the WHO nursing and midwifery conference in Glasgow on 28 July.

‘We haven’t got it right yet.’ 

Nurses can also contribute to combating AMR by dispelling myths about vaccination, educating patients about how to take antibiotics as prescribed and engaging with the public on the need to reduce demand for antimicrobials, Professor Reilly added. 

Further information

WHO hand hygiene guide 

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