Awareness regarding hand washing and hygienic practices is low among doctors and nurses in India, according to a study by AIIMS and Lady Hardinge Medical College (LHMC) which stressed on regular training sessions to ward off the threat of infections.

The study found that a majority of doctors still believe that cleaning hands with soap and water is the best way of ensuring hygiene even as the World Health Organisation recommends alcohol-based hand rub (ABHR) for hand antisepsis due to their broad spectrum of antimicrobial activity.

Of the total sample of doctors and nurses who were interviewed, only 15 per cent of doctors and 37 per cent of nurses knew that Global Hand Washing Day is on October 15.

As per experts, poor hand hygiene practices are a major threat to the health of the patients and doctors themselves.

"Adherence to hand hygiene practices in a healthcare facility can prevent spread of infections and also check transmission of microorganisms," experts said.

The total number of hand exposures in a hospital may range from several tens to thousands per day.

Narendra Saini, member of the Delhi Medical Council and Infection Control Speciality at Max Pushpanjali Hospital, said, "Repeated hand washing is very important in stopping the transmission of infection or acquiring infection to self.

Clean hands save life.

"Infection enters our body through mouth, nose or through the eyes all of which is touched by hands. Infection organisms can survive for more than 8 hours if hands are not washed.

Doctors and health care workers should repeatedly wash their hands," Saini said.

A doctor at AIIMS said alcohol-based rubs should be made available freely at hospitals.

"Availability of resources is important here. There has to be arrangements for hand washing or alcohol-based hand rub (ABHR) should be make available easily to a doctor after he deals with a patient before he starts dealing with another patient.

"Also the patients’ relatives before coming to meet the patient should clean their hands and body properly and do the same after leaving the hospital so as to check spread of infection," the doctor said.

The study was published in the latest issue of International Journal of Pharma Research and Health Sciences, and covered over 100 doctors and nurses from March 2015 to May 2015.