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Inadequate Handwashing Practices in Childcare Facilities

Potera, Carol

AJN The American Journal of Nursing: March 2017 - Volume 117 - Issue 3 - p 17
doi: 10.1097/01.NAJ.0000513277.68635.77
In the News

Adults may wash properly only 22% of the time.

Carol Potera



Childcare providers and parents may clean their hands properly only 22% of the time after they wipe runny noses, change diapers, empty garbage cans, or use cell phones. These standard tasks were recorded for 25 hours on video cameras strategically placed in 10 rooms at a day care center in Arkansas. Overall, involved adults washed their hands properly only 22% of the time. Primary caregivers were best, washing 30% of the time, whereas paraprofessional aides washed 11%, and parents washed 4% of the time.

The researchers used guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) about proper handwashing, such as using soap and cleansing for 20 seconds.

To achieve full compliance with AAP guidelines, workers would need to spend 12 minutes each hour washing their hands.

Compared with children who stay at home, those who attend early childcare centers are two to three times more likely to contract respiratory and gastrointestinal infections, such as rotavirus. Annual medical costs for these illnesses and lost work time for parents reach $1 billion.

Educational programs to increase handwashing are needed. Studies show that a successful handwashing program can lower diarrhea by 72% and colds by 54%, and costs just 1% of any resulting medical treatments. —Carol Potera

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Clark J, et al Am J Infect Control 2016 44 12 1469–74
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