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Katelyn Ann McAllister, Jaysee Willmorth, Preston Schow, Natalie Mourant, Dr. Catherine Masters

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The purpose of this research was to discover how hand hygiene, a simple and cost effective solution, can reduce nosocomial (hospital aquired) infections.

“Healthcare workers hand hygiene compliance rates are known to be suboptimal, despite pressure from regulatory bodies worldwide to improve compliance and abundant evidence that hand hygiene prevents healthcare-associated infections,” (Srigley, 2015, 209).


To discover if there is a significant difference in bacteria found on technologists hands when they sanitize them between patient exams. The null hypothesis for this research is that there will be a significant difference in the amount of bacteria that is present on the technologists who wash their hands or sanitize them. Those technologist who have washed or sanitized their hands will see a the reduction or elimination of harmful bacteria found as compared with those who did not. In order to test this, a group of radiologic technologist had their hands swabbed and tested after completing x-ray exams.

Materials & Methods:

We obtained a sample from a group of 5 technologists.

  • Two technologists were from the Emergency Department
  • Two technologists were from the Radiology Department.
  • One technologist had recently came back from doing mobile x-ray exam

Saline was added to their hands as they rubbed them together for a total of 5 seconds.

Sterile swabs were used to obtain the sample from the pads of the technologists fingers as well as the pads of their palms

The sterile swabs were then transferred to the agar with a “Z” sweep motion

The agar plates were labeled and sent off to the lab

The lab set-up required three different blank microscope slides which were washed well with distilled water.

A sample was gathered with a sterile prong from the colonies that grew on plates 1, 4 & 5.

After the mixing, a Bunsen burner flame was obtained to kill off the bacteria, evaporate the distilled water, and glue stains to the slides.

The slides were then placed on a staining rack where they were immersed in a crystal violet stain to identify the bacteria as gram positive or gram negative.

Plates 1, 4, and 5, photos
From left to right: Sample 1, Sample 4, and Sample 5


Once the plates were given four days at room temperature to grow out, three of the five swabs grew cultures of bacteria. The strains that came back were identified under the microscope as either Bacillus bacteria or Staphylococcus bacteria. Bacillus bacteria are known as, “any of a group of rod-shaped, gram-positive, aerobic or (under some conditions) anaerobic bacteria widely found in soil and water,” (Augustyn, 2019).

Staphylococcus bacteria are, “a genus of gram-positive bacteria in the family Staphylococcaceae in the order Bacillales,” (Conrad, 2019). Approximately sixty percent of radiologic technologists in this department most likely did not follow the protocol of hand washing after each exam. This is because 3 of the 5 samples were positive for bacteria. Two slides showed Staphylococcus bacteria and the other had Bacillus bacteria. This high number of samples could have been due to a number of reasons; including but not limited to not following proper hand hygiene protocol or picking up bacteria after their hand sanitation practices. Although not all strains of bacteria are harmful to humans, it is important to note that any showing up at all are still a sign of poor hand hygiene techniques (Conrad, 2019).

Due to these results, the null hypothesis which states that there is a significant difference in the technologists that wash their hands or sanitize them and the reduction or elimination of harmful bacteria the authors of this paper fail to reject the null.

Additional Research:

Additional research could include following up on how much hand contamination can occur through the contact of commonly used inanimate objects in medical settings. This research would be important since if the particular materials that most commonly harbor bacteria can be discovered, hospitals could work on finding ways to better sanitize these and therefore reduce the amount of nosocomial infections.

Re-Isolation of Bacteria from intentionally Contaminated Surfaces it was found that common surfaces in hospitals such as stainless steel or plastic, could harbor pathogens for a long period of time.The timeframe of how long these pathogens can survive and still contaminate other hosts depends on the type of organism, (Stuart, p. 2)

Bacterial contamination of frequently touched objects in a tertiary care hospital of Pokhara, Nepal, research was conducted with a total of 232 samples around a medium sized range hospital. It was discovered that 219 of these were able to grow some type of bactrim, Staphylococcus aureus being the most common. Some of the surfaces used for testing included elevator buttons and door handles, (Bhatta,, p. 1).

samples 1, 4, and 5, photos
From left to right: Bacillus Sample 1, Staff Sample 4, Staph Sample 5


The medical environment is difficult to keep clean while receiving a large number of patients on a daily basis. The importance of dealing with the reduction/ elimination of harmful pathogens is now more important than ever: especially because of the nations current situation with COVID-19. Our hands are dirty and if we don’t clean them we will providing patients with germs rather than quality care.

  • Lack of Hand hygiene —-> Lack of compliance
  • Education —–> Elevated perspective and compliance


  • Augustyn, A. (2019, February 18). Bacillus the Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica. Retrieved October 22, 2019, from
  • Bhatta, D. R (2018, August 6). Bacterial contamination of frequently touched objects in a tertiary care hospital of Pokhara, Nepal: how safe are our hands? Retrieved from
  • Conrad, M. (2019, July 5). Staph (Staphylococcus) infection symptoms, causes, pictures & treatment. Retrieved October 22, 2019, from infection/ article.htm.
  • Mathur, P. (2011). . Hand Hygiene: Back to the Basics of Infection Control. Indian Journal of Medical Research Retrieved from 249958/
  • McGowan, K. (2016, March 7). When & how to wash your hands. Handwashing CDC. Retrieved September 20, 2019, from -handwashing.html.
  • Srigley, J., Corace, K., Hargadon, D., Yu, D., MacDonald, T., Fabrigar, L., & Garber, G. (2015). Applying psychological frameworks of behaviour change to improve healthcare worker hand hygiene: A systematic review. Journal of Hospital Infection, 91(3), 202-210. doi:10.1016/j.jhin.2015.06.019
  • Stuart, L., & Jones, C. (2006). Research article: Re-isolation of bacteria from intentionally contaminated surfaces. Bios, 77(2), 47-55. doi:10.1893/0005-3155(2006)77[47:RAROBF]2.0.CO;2
  • Not All References Included!

Additional Information

For questions or comments about this research, contact Katelyn Ann McAllister at