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Pilot study to determine whether microbial contamination levels in hospital washrooms are associated with hand-drying method

      We and others have demonstrated that some hand-drying methods are associated with a greater risk of dissemination of residual microbes from hands after (particularly suboptimal) handwashing [
      • Best E.L.
      • Parnell P.
      • Wilcox M.H.
      Microbiological comparison of hand-drying methods: the potential for contamination of the environment, user, and bystander.
      ,
      • Kimmitt P.T.
      • Redway K.F.
      Evaluation of the potential for virus dispersal during hand drying: a comparison of three methods.
      ,
      • Margas E.
      • Maguire E.
      • Berland C.R.
      • Welander F.
      • Holah J.T.
      Assessment of the environmental microbiological cross contamination following hand drying with paper hand towels or an air blade dryer.
      ,
      • Huang C.
      • Ma W.
      • Stack S.
      The hygienic efficacy of different hand-drying methods: a review of the evidence.
      ]. For example, air bacterial counts in close proximity to hand-drying by a jet air dryer were 27-fold higher than measured next to use of paper towels (P < 0.001) [
      • Best E.L.
      • Parnell P.
      • Wilcox M.H.
      Microbiological comparison of hand-drying methods: the potential for contamination of the environment, user, and bystander.
      ]. Such results suggest that air dryers may be unsuitable for use in healthcare settings, where they may facilitate microbial cross-contamination via airborne droplet dispersal. Such risks could have very differing implications depending on multiple factors, including the magnitude of dispersal, the particular micro-organisms involved and, of course, the setting. In hospitals, general infection prevention and control principles aim to limit the spread of micro-organisms due to the increased susceptibility of patients to infection, and to the greater prevalence of potential and/or antimicrobial-resistant pathogens.
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      References

        • Best E.L.
        • Parnell P.
        • Wilcox M.H.
        Microbiological comparison of hand-drying methods: the potential for contamination of the environment, user, and bystander.
        J Hosp Infect. 2014; 88: 199-206
        • Kimmitt P.T.
        • Redway K.F.
        Evaluation of the potential for virus dispersal during hand drying: a comparison of three methods.
        J Appl Microbiol. 2016; 120: 478-486
        • Margas E.
        • Maguire E.
        • Berland C.R.
        • Welander F.
        • Holah J.T.
        Assessment of the environmental microbiological cross contamination following hand drying with paper hand towels or an air blade dryer.
        J Appl Microbiol. 2013; 115: 572-582
        • Huang C.
        • Ma W.
        • Stack S.
        The hygienic efficacy of different hand-drying methods: a review of the evidence.
        Mayo Clin Proc. 2012; 87: 791-798
        • Department of Health
        UK. HBN 00-09 – Infection control in the built environment.
        2013 (Gateway Reference 18521)
      1. World Health Organization. Hand hygiene: why, how & when? Available at: http://who.int/gpsc/5may/Hand_Hygiene_Why_How_and_When_Brochure.pdf [last accessed June 2017].