This study was designed to compare the efficacy of four hand preparation techniques in removing bacteria from the hands preoperatively. The effect of bacteriological swabbing itself on bacterial counts was also investigated. The numbers of bacteria obtained from the dominant and non-dominant hands were also determined. The techniques all used 4 per cent chlorhexidine gluconate, and consisted of rubbing for five minutes with one application of antiseptic; rubbing for five minutes with five applications of antiseptic; rubbing for one minute with one application of antiseptic; and scrubbing with a brush for five minutes with one application of antiseptic. The results showed that the four techniques were equally effective at removing bacteria. There was no significant difference in the bacterial counts obtained from the dominant and non-dominant hands. The wearing of gloves for up to 30 minutes after scrubbing had no effect on the bacterial counts. Swabbing itself significantly reduced the number of bacteria cultured from the hands.
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