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Thursday, February 19, 2009

2 Leading Canadian Hospitals Migrate to Alcohol-Free Hand Sanitizers

For those not already aware, the topic of hand hygiene in hospitals is one of the health care industry's most prevalent issues.

For the less informed, beginning in the late 1990's, HCW's deferred to a 50-page "white paper" published by the US Centers For Disease Control. Positioned as a 'recommendation guideline', the 1996 report promoted the use of frequent hand washing, and when not convenient, the report "recommended" that hand sanitizers (at the time, only alcohol based gels were the sole option), were an important adjunct to stemming the spread of easily transmitted pathogens.

That report has since been widely read and disseminated, even if the sections that cautioned against alcohol-based gels have not been.

And over the years, HCW's complaints about the adverse effects of alcohol on the skin have experienced triple digit increases, year after year.

But the vast majority of hospital administrators in both the US and Canada have remained resilient and refused to consider more recent studies profiling alternative hand sanitizer formulas, and specifically, the benefits and advantages of benzalkonium chloride and related 'quats'. Notwithstanding these newer formulas are equally effacious, non-irritating, non-drying, non-flammable and non-toxic. And, they don't destroy the industrial floor wax when inadvertently dripped onto hospital hallway floors.

Flash forward to 2008. In both the US and Canada, schools, government facilities, military bases, extended care facilities, licensed day care facilities, correctional institutions, and corporate venues have been systematically banning alcohol-based hand sanitizers, and embracing BAC-based products.

But the vast majority of traditional hospitals, the most notorious feeding ground for pathogens have remained otherwise stallwart. The rationale has been "...the CDC recommends ..." But the real fact is that CDC says they don't recommend anything other than washing with soap and water and spokespeople for that agency say the document in question is outdated.

Step in to 2009. In addition to the corporate HQ of the Ontario Hospital Association, two of Canada's most prominent hospitals, North Bay General (Ontario) and Vancouver General Hospital, British Columbia's largest hospital, have recently announced they've burned up the outdated recommendations along with their flammable hand sanitizer dispensers, and both have migrated to an alcohol-free, fragrance free, and dye free hand sanitizer formula manufactured and distributed by Toronto-based Soapopular Inc.

We clap our hands in honor of their responsible, pragmatic and practical approach to proper hand hygiene protocols. And congrats to the Soapopular team in Toronto and their US partners for remaining focused, persistent and for delivering a product that is not only safer to the hands, but is proven to be 2x-3x more cost effective when compared to any alcohol gel product!

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