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Logo of bmjThis ArticleThe BMJ
BMJ. 2007 August 4; 335(7613): 221–222.
PMCID: PMC1939785
Hand hygiene and the CMO

What about early discharge?

Chelliah R Selvasekar, specialist registrar in colorectal surgery

There is good evidence that practising hand washing and other decontamination techniques helps to reduce the incidence of hospital acquired infections.1 There is even more literature to suggest that the incidence of these infections is high in patients who spend more time in hospital because of an inability to rehabilitate after acute admission.2

So, in addition to emphasising the importance of hand washing, the chief medical officer (CMO) should emphasise the urgent need for early discharge of patients admitted to acute hospitals, as well as urging the government to provide early discharge and support enhanced recovery programmes to reduce hospital stay after elective surgery.3 Practices other than hand washing which contribute to hospital acquired infections need to change in the NHS.


Competing interests: None declared.


1. Day M. Chief medical officer names hand hygiene and organ donation as public health priorities. BMJ 2007;335:113 (21 July.)
2. Makris AT, Gelone S. Clostridium difficile in the long-term care setting. J Am Med Dir Assoc 2007;8(5):90-9.
3. Fearon KC, Ljungqvist O, Von Meyenfeldt M, Revhaug A, Dejong CH, Lassen K, et al. Enhanced recovery after surgery: a consensus review of clinical care for patients undergoing colonic resection. Clin Nutr 2005;24:466-77.

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