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Quality Update - Contagious Success

Fall 2009

Contagious Success

Date: October 15, 2009

Hopkins shares its strategies for improving hand-hygiene compliance.

The Johns Hopkins Hospital has become better and better at identifying factors that make it easier for health care workers to consistently wash their hands—and it’s planning to share its findings with hospitals around the country.

The Joint Commission has chosen Hopkins, along with seven other hospital systems, to develop methods to improve hand-hygiene compliance.

This effort marks the first initiative of the commission’s new Center for Transforming Healthcare, which promotes using proven systematic approaches to analyze and fix targeted breakdowns in care. By June 2010, the Joint Commission will share the resulting solutions with the more than 16,000 health care organizations it accredits.

“The goal in this project is not only improving hand-hygiene compliance but understanding the factors that influence whether somebody washes their hands,” says Laura Winner of Hopkins’ Center for Innovation in Quality Patient Care.

In recent years, the center helped to design Hopkins’ own WIPES hand-hygiene campaign, which used posters, hospital-wide electronic reporting of compliance rates and other strategies to achieve a more than threefold increase in compliance. The Joint Commission project gives the center the opportunity to delve more deeply into the barriers to handwashing on two Hopkins units.

“Mystery shoppers” observing behavior on the neurosciences critical care unit and Nelson 8 discovered problems such as empty dispensers of hand sanitizer and role models who didn’t wash their hands. This awareness led to several interventions, including the posting of “Use Me” and “Refill Me” signs on dispensers and signing hand-hygiene agreement letters. Winner says the units’ ability to maintain their compliance won’t be evident until next year.

Save the Date: Johns Hopkins will offer guidance and tools for effective hand-hygiene campaigns at a conference Feb. 22-23 in Baltimore. Details: innovation