Long Fingernails in the Health Care Industry

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Long fingernails are considered attractive by many people, but are they appropriate for a health care worker? During a recent visit to our local doctor's office, I was amazed at the number of female health care workers who wore acrylic fingernails. It suprised me that there are no regulations concerning long nails. University of Michigan researchers say nurses who wear acrylic nails are more likely to pass germs on to their hospital patients. Seventy-three percent of nurses studied who were wearing fake nails had harmful bacteria on them. After hand washing, that number went down to 68%, which is not exactly a huge reduction.

The body of evidence implicating artificial nails and long natural
nails in health care-associated infections continues to grow.
Infections with pseudomonas and other gram-negative pathogens and yeast have been associated with personnel wearing artificial nails.

If a caregiver does choose to wear artificial nails, new
guidelines on hand hygiene from the CDC may be of interest:

The government issued guidelines urging doctors and nurses to abandon the ritual of washing their hands with soap and water between patients and instead rub on fast-drying alcohol gels to kill more germs. The goal: reduce the hospital spread of viruses and bacteria that infect an estimated 2 million people in the United States each year and kill about 90,000.

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