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Handrub safety alert sent to trusts

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A patient set her hand on fire after mistaking an alcohol handrub for hand cream, while holding a lit cigarette, according to the National Patient Safety Agency.

It is one of 379 patient safety incident reports involving alcohol handrub since 2004. Other incidents included patients ingesting the solution, accidentally splashing it in their eyes and mouths, and allergic reactions.

‘Although the majority of these resulted in no or low harm the NPSA believes that these risks could be managed if NHS trusts followed their recommendations on where the handrub dispensers should be placed,’ the NPSA says.

This week the agency is re-issued its Clean Hands Saves Lives patient safety alert, stating that all NHS trusts in England and Wales should install alcohol handrub dispensers at the ‘point of care’ where patients are treated.

Last November, researchers warned that patients dependent on alcohol were putting their lives at risk by deliberately ingesting infection control hand rub. Authors studied records at a London hospital and found that one alcohol dependent patient who ingested 500ml of the gel was nine times over the legal UK driving limit.

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