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New research study highlights possible hygiene risks on surfaces in hospitals


Tork, brand of SCA raises awareness of critical WHO’s “Fifth Moment for Hand Hygiene”, related to patient surroundings, in recognition of World Hand Hygiene Day 5th of May

To help raise awareness about the importance of hand hygiene in healthcare settings, leading global hygiene and health company SCA, together with RISE (Research Institutes of Sweden) is proud to share new research looking at the prevalence of bacteria found within patient surroundings. The two-year study was a multi-partner study involving SCA researchers, healthcare institutions and research institutes. The study was sponsored by Vinnova, the Swedish government agency responsible for promoting sustainable growth through innovation and looked at the importance of textile materials and surfaces in the patient surroundings as possible sources of healthcare associated infections (HAI’s). 

Sanitizing hands after touching patient surroundings needs to be emphasized

Using DNA sampling, researchers examined the bacterial community found on surfaces in the patient’s immediate surroundings: the surfaces included textiles, such as privacy curtains or bedding in neonatal incubators; patient bed guardrails; and floors in patient wards, toilets and showers. The examined surfaces harbored a wide variety of bacteria, some of which are potential pathogens. The findings emphasize the need for proper hand hygiene according to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) 5th moment. Unfortunately, according to the American Journal of Infection Control, hand hygiene compliance in healthcare settings tends to be the lowest for the fifth moment (1).  Only 60% of healthcare workers clearly recognize and follow this step so this study helps to highlight the importance of sanitizing hands also after touching patient surroundings.
“Our study shows that patient-near surfaces can harbor potentially pathogenic bacteria; proper hand hygiene after contact with surfaces can help prevent cross-contamination and potentially help reduce HAI’s” says Birgitta Bergström, Msc, Microbiology and hygiene at RISE Agrifood and Bioscience.‎ 

Cleaning procedures, education and dispenser placement are key 

In an earlier 3-year study with 16 hospitals supported by Tork, 60% of healthcare workers considered dispenser placement as a main contributor to better compliance for long term results. 
“The ACCOMPLISH study* has shown that it is important to look at hand hygiene moments from the healthcare worker perspective and tasks, making it as easy as possible to comply with the 5 moments also including easy access and logical placement of dispensers, a small change that can have a big impact” says Carolyn Berland, Senior scientist with R&D,  SCA. 
The Tork skincare dispensers used in the Accomplish study are a part of the overall hand hygiene offer from Tork for healthcare. The solutions cover the full range from washing and drying to sanitizing and moisturizing. Given how crucial frequent hand hygiene praxis is amongst healthcare workers, the selection of products is optimized to be as gentle, efficient and quick to use as possible. 
To encourage compliance and help prevent infection spread, Tork recommends the following actions: 
• Educate staff and visitors about the importance of and the rationale for the 5th moment in hand hygiene
• Have clear, detailed routines for cleaning patient areas
• Clean patient textiles frequently and consider when disposable textiles can be helpful
• Learn more about how to improve compliance by using our Tork dispenser placement recommendations for healthcare facilities here
• Visit the WHO global campaign site for more useful tools and information

Promoting World Hand Hygiene Day for health care workers 

According to WHO, HAIs remain a major problem. Good hand hygiene is widely considered the single-most important method of reducing these infections(2).  Therefore each year the WHO with the help of POPS (Private Organizations for Patient Safety)* participants highlights the importance of hand hygiene on the WHO hand hygiene day, 5th of May. SCA is a proud participant of this program.
To boost hand hygiene practices, the WHO developed “Five Moments for Hand Hygiene” which highlights key times when healthcare workers should sanitize their hands. These moments include hand sanitizing before touching a patient, before clean/aseptic procedures, after body fluid exposure/risk, after touching a patient and after touching patient surroundings. Visit the WHO global campaign site more useful tools and information.
“Healthcare workers are busy people trying hard to protect their patients’ health. They need and deserve our support to be able to perform hand hygiene quickly and easily when needed “, says Carolyn Berland, Senior Scientist at SCA.  World hand hygiene day can give these professionals an added boost in the difficult task of maintaining high compliance.
For more information about SCA’s work on supporting hygiene for everyday life, visit
For more information on SCA, please contact Renee Remijnse
+31 30 6984 643 or 
For more information about Tork or press images, please contact xxx xxxxx 

(1) American Journal of Infection Control. “Toward improving the World Health Organization fifth moment for hand hygiene in the prevention of cross-infection.”
(2)  “Hand hygiene: Back to the basics of infection control.” 
About the SCA and Vinnova Study 
To learn how to decrease healthcare-associated infections (HAIs), SCA was one of the main contributors to Vinnova’s two-year study involving thirteen partners including hospitals, research institutes and private companies. SCA invested more than 2,000 hours in helping to make the project a success.

About RISE Agrifood and Bioscience
Agrifood and Bioscience is a unit that is part of RISE (Research Institutes of Sweden). The unit has about 130 employees and conducts research and innovation throughout the food chain, from primary agricultural production over the processing industry and retail, all the way to the consumer level. We develop and implement next-generation technologies for primary and food production, and are operating for development of requested safe, healthy and sustainable food. RISE consists of former institutes Innventia, SP, and Swedish ICT with totally 2,200 employees and is owned by the Swedish state. More information at

About World Hand Hygiene Day
World Hand Hygiene Day is a campaign by the World Health Organization (WHO) to promote hand hygiene in healthcare settings annually on May 5th.  The goal of these efforts is to improve healthcare provider compliance to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as well as WHO hand hygiene recommendations. Activities surrounding World Hand Hygiene Day also address and clarify misperceptions about hand hygiene.

Svenska Cellulosa Aktiebolaget
SCA is a leading global hygiene and forest products company that sustainably develops, produces and sells personal care, tissue and forest products. Through the recently acquired company BSN medical, the Group offers products within wound care, compression therapy and orthopedics. Sales are conducted in approximately 150 countries under many strong brands, including the leading global brands TENA and Tork, and other brands, such as Leukoplast, Libero, Libresse, Lotus, Nosotras, Saba, Tempo, Vinda and Zewa. As Europe’s largest private forest owner, SCA places considerable emphasis on sustainable forest management. In 2016, the Group had approximately 46,000 employees and sales amounted to approximately SEK 117bn (EUR 12.4bn). SCA was founded in 1929, has its headquarters in Stockholm, Sweden, and is listed on Nasdaq Stockholm. SCA is dedicated to improving well-being through leading hygiene and health solutions.
More information at