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Asking Doctors to Wash Their Hands


Health care professionals make contact with an average of 35 patients daily. If you calculate that the hand wash takes 2 minutes, including the time to find a basin, more than one hour of the work day is used for washing.

Hospital infections cost the world thousands of lives. An important cause is unclean hands. A new device will clean hands completely in a fraction of the time used for a typical hand washing.

The newly developed hand-wash device contains two main components: disinfecting fluid and the application apparatus. The hands are inserted into an opening in a box and disinfecting fluid is applied – without making physical contact with the actual device. Simple and quick compared to normal hand wash with soap and water.

Time is an important factor in this picture. A study in the EU showed that health care professionals are in contact with an average of 35 patients daily. If you calculate that the washing hands takes 2 minutes, including the time to find a basin, more than one hour of the work day is used for washing.

“Our concept would reduce the time it takes to disinfect hands by up to 75 percent,” says Petter Mehren. He is manager of the company MainSani AS, who is behind the development of the device.

When Norwegian and British health care personnel were asked why they did not practice better hygiene routines, they often said that they either forget or that the basin was not readily available. They also related that during busy days the normal hand wash takes too long – not to mention that frequent washing leads to dry and irritated skin.

“There must be an easier way to disinfect hands, I thought. So I started to conceive a plan that today has become the research project MainSani,” says Mehren. He adds that an important point is that MainSani’s liquid does not contain chlorine, iodine or alcohol. It should feel comfortable and not irritate the skin, and therefore invite more frequent disinfecting.

The potential is huge. In Norway, hospital infections cost the country somewhere between half and one billion kroner per year (60-120 mill EURO). Add to that the suffering of about 45 thousand patients that are affected. Hospital personnel do not wash their hands in half of the situations in which they should do so, and doctors are worse than nurses, shows international and Nordic surveys.

Although it is the health sector that is the main target group for the product, the possibilities are far greater.

“Very many contagions are passed via the hands outside hospitals as well. I therefore see that the disinfection devices can be placed in any area where people and bacteria gather, such as in the workplace, airports, bars and restaurants,” says Mehren.

Thomas Evensen | alfa
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