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Print version ISSN 1657-5997On-line version ISSN 2027-5374


SALAZAR-MAYA, ángela María et al. Hand hygiene in an intensive care unit. Aquichán [online]. 2008, vol.8, n.1, pp.8-18. ISSN 1657-5997.

Aim: To understand the importance and priority assigned to hand hygiene by the health team of an intensive care unit at a university hospital. Materials and methods: A qualitative methodology, with an ethnographic approach, was used. The figures were constructed through participatory observation and interviews with the doctors, nurses and auxiliary nurses who took part in the study, which was conducted inside an intensive care unit at a university hospital. Results: Hand hygiene is a contextualized practice that hinges on the patent, the procedure and the surrounding environment. Those elements determine its value and priority for the hospital staff. Nursing professionals have been given responsibility for ensuring com-pliance with hand hygiene practices. However, this has sparked conflict with other professionals in the work place. Conclusions: Hand hygiene is an episodic, temporary and contextualized practice with restrictions and demands. The weight and importance assigned to it by the participants depends on the type of patient, the procedure and physical setting.

Keywords : Hand-washing; nosocomial infections; patient; epidemiological surveillance.

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