Handwashing is the most effective method of preventing the spread of nosocomial infection. Despite its simplicity, handwashing is frequently omitted by health care personnel. To date there have been no studies of the handwashing practices of occupational therapists. A telephone survey of 50 occupational therapy personnel indicated that the majority (60%) washed their hands with a liquid, antimicrobial soap 9 or more times during the work day with a wash duration of 10 seconds or less. Analyses revealed no statistically significant differences between handwashing frequency and duration and age, years in practice, position, academic degree, or work setting. Overall, handwashing technique was found to be lacking.
All respondents stated that handwashing was important to occupational therapy practice and most agreed that it was just as important for therapists as it was for physicians and nurses. Most agreed that hands should be washed both before and after each patient contact. However, few respondents actually did so regularly. Most respondents indicated that they received their knowledge of handwashing from inservice training at their place of employment. Their occupational therapy educational programs did not provide basic information on handwashing techniques.