Why is mock care not a good proxy for predicting hand contamination during patient care?

M. F. King, A. M. Wilson, M. López-García, J. Proctor, D. G. Peckham, I. J. Clifton, S. J. Dancer, C. J. Noakes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Background: Healthcare worker (HCW) behaviours, such as the sequence of their contacts with surfaces and hand hygiene moments, are important for understanding disease transmission. Aim: To propose a method for recording sequences of HCW behaviours during mock vs actual procedures, and to evaluate differences for use in infection risk modelling and staff training. Methods: Procedures for three types of care were observed under mock and actual settings: intravenous (IV) drip care, observational care and doctors' rounds on a respiratory ward in a university teaching hospital. Contacts and hand hygiene behaviours were recorded in real-time using either a handheld tablet or video cameras. Findings: Actual patient care demonstrated 70% more surface contacts than mock care. It was also 2.4 min longer than mock care, but equal in terms of patient contacts. On average, doctors' rounds took 7.5 min (2.5 min for mock care), whilst auxiliary nurses took 4.9 min for observational care (2.4 min for mock care). Registered nurses took 3.2 min for mock IV care and 3.8 min for actual IV care; this translated into a 44% increase in contacts. In 51% of actual care episodes and 37% of mock care episodes, hand hygiene was performed before patient contact; in comparison, 15% of staff delivering actual care performed hand hygiene after patient contact on leaving the room vs 22% for mock care. The number of overall touches in the patient room was a modest predictor of hand hygiene. Using a model to predict hand contamination from surface contacts for Staphylococcus aureus, Escherichia coli and norovirus, mock care underestimated micro-organisms on hands by approximately 30%.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)44-51
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Hospital Infection
StatePublished - Mar 2021


  • Fomite transmission
  • Infection risk
  • Patient care
  • Staphylococcus aureus
  • Surface contacts

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases


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