Dr. Devon C. Cole of the University of Florida in Gainesville, said one study found keeping hand sanitizers clean decreased their bacterial contamination by 75 percent, while a second study found giving healthcare workers gel bottles attached to their belts were nearly 30 percent more likely to use the hand sanitizer.
The first study looked at bacterial counts on such high-touch surfaces as the hand sanitizer dispenser and the electronic medical record keyboard. The second study followed the compliance of a hand hygiene policy before and after personal sanitation gel devices were worn on the belts of medical personnel.
Bacteria on sanitizer dispensers were sampled at 4-hour intervals at two hospitals during the work day and also at 5 a.m. and 8 p.m.
Hand sanitizer dispensers accumulated a rising number of bacteria throughout the day at both hospitals, but the number of bacterial colony-forming units at the second hospital was significantly higher.
"Often the last object touched by the anesthesia provider before the patient's IV is the hand sanitizer dispenser," Cole said. "Too small a volume of sanitizer, inadequate coverage of finger tips and a short drying time will all enable bacteria to persist on the providers' hands. Routine cleansing of the dispensers will reduce this reservoir of bacteria."
In the second study, despite the availability of wall-mounted hand sanitation dispensers, compliance was less than ideal, said Dr. Colby L. Parks of the University of Wisconsin, Madison.
The second study showed that a simple intervention in which a personal anti-bacterial hand gel dispenser was readily available worked better, Parks said.
The findings were presented at the Anesthesiology 2013 annual meeting.