As everyone knows, the last several weeks has resulted in a firestorm of activity promoting the importance of proper hand hygiene; a topic that is a number one talking point by Infection Control experts. And, for those of us that beat the drums i.e.” wash your hands, please!”, its often frustrating that this message and simple logic often falls on deaf ears.
In the midst of yet another health care alarm, its equally frustrating that the preponderance of messages with regard to hand hygiene includes the legacy recommendation “Use alcohol-based hand sanitizers!”, despite the fact that the health care industry at large is highly aware of safer and friendlier non-alcohol alternatives that are well-documented to be equally, if not more effective against a broad spectrum of pathogens (including H1N1), but that HCW’s remain handcuffed from using these alternative products simply because their organizations defer exclusively to a document published in 1996 by the US Centers for Disease Control.
This is the document that recommends alcohol hand sanitizers on the first page, includes merely one sentence acknowledging “emerging non-alcohol formulas” , as well as numerous cautionary statements and caveats i.e. alcohol-based sanitizers within the body of that 50-page document.
Yes, we all appreciate that alcohol kills germs that might be immediately on the hands.
That said, any HCW working within a venue that requires constant application of hand sanitizers also knows that alcohol not only causes dry/irritated skin, which increases risk of exposure to pathogens, but that alcohol hand sanitizer products destroy protective skin cells, along with destroying industrial floor wax and paint that may be exposed to ‘drippage’ from those dispensing devices placed on facility walls.
In a recent communication with interim CDC director Dr. Rich Besser, it was pointed out, that amongst others, no less than four federal government agencies have systematically banned alcohol-based hand sanitizers. As have tens of dozens of schools, senior care facilities, doctor offices, substance abuse centers, child care facilities, correctional facilities and most recently, the United States Navy.
The purpose of the message was to seek clarification from CDC and to advise them that all of these groups have actually contacted us unsolicited in the course of their implementing strategies to help defend their staff and their facilities against the H1N1 situation, and to otherwise expand on their hand hygiene programs. Their top 3 reasons include:
1. Flash point / facility damage risk
3. Product Risk/Reward Analysis
Dr. Besser responded with a very polite reply in which he acknowledged that CDC “might be off message, but that we’re working on it.” He then designated a staff member to follow up, and that reply was limited to:
“Per Dr. Besser’s request…I’ve been asked to follow up your message to him. Please note:
1. CDC recommends alcohol hand sanitizer products
2. CDC does not recommend products
3. Your inquiry i.e. non-alcohol formulas is beyond the scope of the CDC Infection Control Emergency Desk
It would seem to some that we're subjective in our opinion, as we are one of a select number of manufacturers that produce a line of benzalkonium chloride-based, foam format hand sanitizer products. Our two rinse-free, fragrance-free and dye- free formulas (a .13 and a .24 version of the active ingredient) have been vigorously and independently tested against a variety of the most common pathogens.Including H1N1.
While we remain emphatic that frequent washing with the appropriate soap and water is always the best defense, the efficacy comparisons between alcohol and quat-based formulas speak for themselves. As do the product safety comparisons.
We’re not talking about chemotherapy, we’re talking about hand sanitizers, and common logic.
We’re more than happy to provide product documentation and samples to those that request it.
MGS Brands, Inc.
d/b/a MGS Soapopular
2490 Black Rock Turnpike
Fairfield, Connecticut 06825
Exclusive US Distributor: Soapopular brand, the #1 Alcohol-Free hand sanitizer
Global License: Hy5 alcohol-free hand sanitizer
GREAT BLOG: HandHygieneFacts
Soapopular is a Member of the International Federation for Infection Control (IFIC)www.theific.org