• hand hygiene;
  • hand rubs;
  • hand wash;
  • nurses;
  • skin care;
  • skin hygiene

Aims and objectives.  This study aims to identify nurses’ practices and opinions of handwashing during routine patient care.

Background.  Transmission of microorganisms from the hands of healthcare workers is the main source of cross-infection in hospitals and can be prevented by handwashing.

Design and methods.  A questionnaire survey was used for this study. A total of 129 clinical nurses at University of Ege Faculty of Medicine Application and Investigation Hospital at Internal Medicine Clinics was surveyed with a response rate of 100%. Data analysis was carried out using SPSS version 10.

Results.  The study revealed that nurses have a poor level of knowledge concerning quality of hand washing. All nursing actions related to ‘clean’ and ‘dirty’ activities were evaluated using the Fulkerson scale. The majority of nurses reported that they always wash hands after contact with contaminated and non-contaminated patients, equipment and environment. It was found that they did need to wash their hands often but that they were not able to do this because of dense working conditions, insufficiency of necessary materials and drying and sore of hands after frequent washing.

Conclusion.  To improve hand hygiene and quality of handwashing compliance, additional factors must be considered. These factors include improving healthcare workers – especially nurses’– skin conditions, hand hygiene techniques and disinfections substantially.

Relevance to clinical practice.  Hospitals need to develop and implement innovative educational and motivational programmes tailored to specific groups of health personnel.