Background: Hand hygiene (HH) is one of the most important measures to prevent healthcare-associated infections. Data on HH compliance in companion animal veterinary institutions in Europe are sparse.
Methods: This observational study assessed HH according to WHO standards in three large and two medium-sized clinics and two primary care practices in Switzerland. Associations with HH indication, professional group, clinical area and institution were determined using a generalized linear mixed effects model.
Results: Based on 2056 observations, overall HH compliance [95% confidence interval] was 32% [30%-34%]. HH compliance was highest in the consultation area (41% [38%-45%]) and after contact to body fluids (45% [40%-50%]), and lowest in the pre-OR area (20% [15%-24%]) and before clean/aseptic procedures (12% [9%-15%]). Veterinarians showed a higher HH compliance (37% [34%-40%]) than veterinary nurses (25% [22%-28%]). HH compliance was lower before clean/aseptic procedures compared to all other indications (all p < 0.015 except 'before touching a patient' in medium-sized clinics/practices, p = 0.095) and higher in the consultation area compared to all other areas in large clinics (all p < 0.04).
Conclusion: Effective HH training should urgently be promoted for all veterinary personnel with special emphasis on the importance of HH before clean/aseptic procedures.