Wrist watches must be removed before washing hands (2024)

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Wrist watches must be removed before washing hands (1)

This ArticleThe BMJ

J C Hartley, Specialist registrar

G M Scott, Consultant

Department of Clinical Microbiology, University College London Hospitals, London WC1E 6DB

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Editor—The select committee on science and technology’s seventh report states that “Adequate and appropriate hand washing is well recognised as the single most important measure in infection control.”1 All doctors and nurses who have a role in infection control will have been disappointed to see the illustration in the BMJ of a lumbar puncture2 being performed by a doctor who cannot have washed her hands adequately because she is still wearing her wrist watch.

Wrist watches must be removed before washing hands (2)

Wearing a wrist watch prevents proper hand washing, which should always be done before an aseptic procedure such as a lumbar puncture. Infection control manuals in our healthcare trust and throughout the country include removing wrist watches and rolling up the sleeves as the first stage of hand washing. We emphasise the importance of removing wrist watches with a poster on the wards depicting the lower bacterial counts achieved by following this policy (figure).


1. House of Lords Select Committee on Science and Technology. Seventh report. London: Stationery Office; 1998. [Google Scholar]

2. Berger A. Amyloid clearly implicated in Alzheimer’s disease. BMJ. 1998;317:102. . (11 July.) [Google Scholar]

Articles from The BMJ are provided here courtesy of BMJ Publishing Group

Wrist watches must be removed before washing hands (2024)
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