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Medical News & Perspectives
November 4, 2009

Hand Washing, a Key Anti-Flu Strategy, Often Neglected by Health Care Workers

JAMA. 2009;302(17):1850-1851. doi:10.1001/jama.2009.1572

As the 2009 influenza A(H1N1) virus expands its reach, health officials continue to stress the importance of hand washing as the first line of defense in prevention. Particularly in health care settings, hand antisepsis has long been recognized as a key factor in minimizing the spread of pathogenic microorganisms and limiting health care–associated infections. Yet getting health care workers, including physicians and nurses, to wash their hands remains a problem. In response, new patient safety programs from the Joint Commission and the World Health Organization (WHO) are placing their initial focus on improving compliance with hand hygiene standards.