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Comparative Antimicrobial Efficacy of Two Hand Sanitizers in Intensive Care Units Common Areas: A Randomized, Controlled Trial

  • Abhishek Deshpande (a1) (a2), Jacqueline Fox (a2), Ken Koon Wong (a1), Jennifer L. Cadnum (a3), Thriveen Sankar (a3), Annette Jencson (a4), Sarah Schramm (a2), Thomas G. Fraser (a1), Curtis J. Donskey (a3) (a4) and Steven Gordon (a1)...

Contaminated hands of healthcare workers (HCWs) are an important source of transmission of healthcare-associated infections. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers, while effective, do not provide sustained antimicrobial activity. The objective of this study was to compare the immediate and persistent activity of 2 hand hygiene products (ethanol [61% w/v] plus chlorhexidine gluconate [CHG; 1.0% solution] and ethanol only [70% v/v]) when used in an intensive care unit (ICU).


Prospective, randomized, double-blinded, crossover study


Three ICUs at a large teaching hospital


In total, 51 HCWs involved in direct patient care were enrolled in and completed the study.


All HCWs were randomized 1:1 to either product. Hand prints were obtained immediately after the product was applied and again after spending 4–7 minutes in the ICU common areas prior to entering a patient room or leaving the area. The numbers of aerobic colony-forming units (CFU) were compared for the 2 groups after log transformation. Each participant tested the alternative product after a 3-day washout period.


On bare hands, use of ethanol plus CHG was associated with significantly lower recovery of aerobic CFU, both immediately after use (0.27 ± 0.05 and 0.88 ± 0.08 log10 CFU; P = .035) and after spending time in ICU common areas (1.81 ± 0.07 and 2.17 ± 0.05 log10 CFU; P<.0001). Both the antiseptics were well tolerated by HCWs.


In comparison to the ethanol-only product, the ethanol plus CHG sanitizer was associated with significantly lower aerobic bacterial counts on hands of HCWs, both immediately after use and after spending time in ICU common areas.


Infect Control Hosp Epidemiol 2018;39:267–271

Corresponding author
Address correspondence to Abhishek Deshpande MD, PhD, Cleveland Clinic, 9500 Euclid Ave, Desk G10, Cleveland OH 44195 (
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Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology
  • ISSN: 0899-823X
  • EISSN: 1559-6834
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