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Hand hygiene campaign trumped superbugs

A campaign to improve hand hygiene in hospitals in England and Wales made a significant dent in the rates of superbug infections, according to a report published by the BMJ.

The report, which is available from the medical journal’s website, revealed that the amount of soap and hand gel being used tripled during the campaign and the increase in usage was marked by a sharp drop in the levels of MRSA and C. difficile infections in hospitals.

The Clean Your Hands campaign was funded by the Department of Health and introduced in all hospitals by June 2005.

Alcohol gel dispensers were put in wards, posters prompted staff to wash their hands and regular checks ensured that staff kept their hands clean.

The BBC said that the BMJ report indicated that by 2008, the total amount of soap and alcohol gel being purchased by hospitals trebled, going from 22ml per patient per day to 60ml per patient per day.

Rates of MRSA more than halved in the same time period and C. diff infections fell by more than 40%.