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Hand hygiene prevents cross-infection in hospitals, but health-care workers' adherence to guidelines is poor. Easy, timely access to both hand hygiene and skin protection is necessary for satisfactory hand hygiene behavior. Alcohol- based hand rubs may be better than traditional handwashing as they require less time, act faster, are less irritating, and contribute to sustained improvement in compliance associated with decreased infection rates. This article reviews barriers to appropriate hand hygiene and risk factors for noncompliance and proposes strategies for promoting hand hygiene.