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Before you can assess how well your hospital or ambulatory clinic is doing on hand hygiene, it is important to answer the following questions:
What percentage of the staff in your institution follows proper hygiene methods?
Many institutional leaders believe that 100 percent of their staff members wash or sanitize their hands before and after each patient contact, mainly on the basis of anecdotal information or self-reporting by health care units. But many studies have found that health care providers adhere to national guidelines for hand hygiene less than 50 percent of the time.1
How does your hospital or ambulatory clinic collect hand hygiene data?
Anecdotal information is not enough to change hand hygiene behavior and sustain that change. Many hospitals do not have a standard way to collect hand hygiene information or have access to standardized training on how to collect hand hygiene compliance data. Download resources from the improvement toolkits section of the website.
Do your staff members know the hand hygiene compliance rates for their unit or clinic?
Real-time or near-real-time sharing of hand hygiene data broken down by unit and by type of health care worker is a great way to ensure success in improving hand hygiene and to diminish certain types of hospital-acquired infections. Having the ability to compare the hand hygiene data of various teams within the same institution and with the data for units in similar institutions can be very helpful in improving hand hygiene practices. The WIPES program toolkit includes an online reporting tool.
Does your hospital or clinic leadership know your institution’s hand-hygiene compliance rates?
If a hospital or clinic’s leadership is paying attention to an issue, its staff is likely to focus on improving it. That’s why it is also important for institutional leaders to have access to real time or near-real time hand hygiene data broken down by unit and type of health care worker and to follow that data carefully.
Why is hand hygiene Important?
Two million people in the United States acquire hospital-related infections every year, and more than 90,000 of them die according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Patients and health care workers are also susceptible to respiratory diseases in a hospital setting including the common flu and, more recently, H1N1 (swine flu).
Medical experts, the CDC and the World Health Organization (WHO) agree that hand hygiene is the single most important step health workers can take to prevent infection and transmission of problem pathogens in health care settings. In fact, when health care providers improve their hand hygiene, health care-associated infections such as MRSA and VRE along with C. difficile transmissions and respiratory and diarrheal diseases are significantly reduced.2,3,4
Recently, the State of Maryland launched The Maryland Hospital Hand Hygiene Collaborative campaign. This is an important statewide initiative to enhance the prevention of healthcare-associated infections (HAI) in Maryland hospitals. The goal of the Maryland Hospital Hand Hygiene Collaborative is to strengthen and compliment the work already being done to improve Hand Hygiene. Many of the tools and the online hand hygiene tracking tool are from the WIPES program.
- D Pittet, P Mourouga, Perneger T. (1999) Compliance with hand washing in a teaching hospital. Annals of Internal Medicine 130(2), pp. 126–130.
- D Pittet, S Hugonnet et al. Effectiveness of a hospital-wide program to improve compliance with hand hygiene. Lancet 356 (2000), pp. 1307-1312.
- Doebbeling BN, Stanley GL, Sheetz CT, et al. Comparative efficacy of alternative hand-washing agents in reducing nosocomial infections in intensive care units. N Engl J Med 1992;327:88–93.
- D Pittet, J Boyce. Guideline for hand hygiene in the health care setting. MMWR 2002; Vol. 51 ; No. RR-16.