Simple interventions such as using alcohol-based hand sanitisers before treating patients in ICU has brought down deaths due to hospital-acquired infections by nearly 50% at AIIMS Trauma Centre in the past five years, a study has revealed.
The internal study — part of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR)-funded five-year project on infection control — found the mere use of hand sanitisers had brought down deaths from infections in ICU trauma patients from 54% in 2010 to 28% in 2015.
All the patients surveyed were on ventilator support.
Three common causes for infection and death in ICU patients are ventilator associated pneumonia, central line associated blood stream infection and catheter-based urinary tract infection.
Hand hygiene cuts the infection rate by 33 per cent, shows World Health Organisation (WHO) data.
The AIIMS Trauma Centre has a robust infection control surveillance programme running since 2008.
“Our infection control rates are on par with the best hospitals in the world. While benchmark for surgical site infection rate across the world is about 3%, at our trauma centre it’s less than 2%” said Dr MC Misra, director AIIMS.
Use of alcohol-based hand sanitiser is very effective. “The WHO prescribes five key moments of hand hygiene — before and after treating a patient, before coming to the clinic and performing a procedure in sterile setting and when hands are visibly soiled,” said Dr Purva Mathur, additional professor, department of microbiology at AIIMS.
“Hand hygiene is the most important among all preventive measures in bringing down infection rates in ICU patients,” she said. From 12% in 2010, the hand hygiene compliance rate has jumped to 64% in 2015. This compliance rate is close to those of Scandinavian countries (75% to 78%) that are considered the best.