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Saturday, December 12, 2009

NYS Dept Of Health [Cautions] Use of Alcohol Hand Sanitizers: Wash Hands BEFORE Applying

In a recent publication re: "hand hygiene antiseptic agents in hospital settings", the New York State Department of Health provides the completely ironic recommendation for users of alcohol-based hand sanitizers and states: "wash hands with soap and water for at least 15 seconds before applying alcohol hand sanitizer."

A fifth grade student asks: "Why would I apply alcohol to my hands if I've just washed them with soap and water???" 

NYS Dept of Health answers: "Because alcohol is not a cleaning agent, and it does not penetrate dirty/soiled skin.." 

In the same document, the NYS Dept of Health cautions that "alcohol-based hand sanitizers are NON-PERSISTENT and have "NO RESIDUAL ACTIVITY"

This means that alcohol sanitizers have NO EFFECTIVENESS within seconds after  product application, as alcohol dries within seconds.

NYS Dept of Health infers in the same document that alcohol sanitizers are completely ineffective against non-enveloped viruses and lose their effectiveness with repeated use. The latter "feature" means that the more frequently alcohol is applied to the skin, they have absolutely no efficacy against germs/bacteria.

The fifth grade student that posed the above questions remains utterly confused as to why a state agency responsible for providing guidance on health-related issues would recommend using alcohol on the hands, when there are non-alcohol, rinse-free products that do not require washing before applying, have extended persistency (which means they continue to be effective long after applying), and these non-alcohol products deliver IMPROVED effectiveness over repeated applications.

NYS Dept of Health says: "The document in question is intended for health care workers within a hospital setting.." 

We know that GOJO Industries, the manufacturer of Purell alcohol hand sanitizer visits this blog daily--so we invite them to dispute the position taken by the NYS Dept of Health. And we invite them to explain why their product makes any sense if repeated use reduces the product effectiveness.

In the interim, we'll continue to join hands with among others, experts at the U.S. Navy, who have determined that applying alcohol to the hands is completely counter-intuitive, and that alternative, non-alcohol hand antiseptic products are safer to the skin, and much more pragmatic from a variety of perspectives.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

There is a wonderful product out there called SafeHands that is non alcohol based and kills better than alcohol and actually has been proven to work better with more use and alcohol has been shown to be less effective with repeated use(see AORN journal Aug. 1998 Vol 68, No 2). This study has been out there and completely ignored by the CDC and the WHO. I am a dentist in Florida and can no longer use alcohol due to the cracking and bleeding it caused. I thankfully found SafeHands and just as latex gloves are going out of vogue so will alcohol hand sanitizers. We cannot use alcohol to sterilize anything in dentistry so why are we using it on our hands ??????