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DebMed Blog: Healthcare Hygiene Matters

5 Ways to Break the Chain of Infection

Posted by DebMed on Oct 20, 2016 9:30:00 AM

Unfortunately, infections like zika, e.coli, c.diffcile and MRSA are very common globally. Viral and bacterial infections threaten the health and well-being of adults and children in every environment – from highly developed, industrial nations to struggling, third-world countries. International Infection Prevention Week (IIPW), which takes place October 16-22, 2016, is a global campaign designed to zero in on healthcare’s shared mission: “Break the Chain of Infection.”   


The Association of Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC) recommends six strategies for breaking the chain of infection, one of which is proper hand hygiene. Consider how you can contribute to “Breaking the Chain of Infection” by implementing strategies like the following:

  1. Champion the adoption and use of effective hand hygiene guidelines, including the WHO Five Moments in the U.S. or Canada’s Four Moments for Hand Hygiene. Provide training and education on every guideline, measuring compliance electronically as recommend by the Electronic Hand Hygiene Compliance Organization (EHCO).
  1. Use proper hand washing and sanitizing techniques, as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which suggests when and how to perform hand hygiene with practical advice on glove use, skin and nail care and use of sanitizers.
  1. Choose hand hygiene products carefully, taking into account factors like the efficacy of the antiseptic agent, professionals’ acceptance of the product and product availability and access on every shift. Among the issues: Does the product work? Do staff understand, accept and use the product appropriately? Is the product available and easily accessible?   

  2. Share performance gains. Healthcare professionals seek timely, accurate, evidence-based feedback on clinical and business performance. They’re eager to learn how their actions, including hand hygiene compliance, move the needle on patient safety, quality, infection control and readmissions prevention. The solution: Use daily huddles, meetings and celebratory events to report on hand hygiene performance improvements and celebrate hand hygiene ambassadors and champions.
  1. Make hand hygiene fun! Hand hygiene should be encouraged and we have seen that facilities are the most successful with compliance increases when the staff work together to implement a proper hand hygiene culture. Position hand hygiene as an opportunity to contribute to a culture of compliance, quality, safety and joy in the workplace. For example, if you notice a coworker miss an opportunity, consider a secret phrase like “paws” or a gesture like an open palm to help professionals remind their colleagues to perform hand hygiene.

DebMed is pleased to share its insights on how healthcare professionals can “Break the Chain of Infection” – both now and in the months and years ahead. Hand hygiene is a journey, not a destination. The changes you introduce during this important commemorative week will create a foundation for hand hygiene compliance initiatives going forward. 

The best hand hygiene compliance programs are anchored in the mission, vision, values and strategies of organizations and professions. Whether we work in a neighborhood clinic or large academic medical center, we must remember these simple questions:

Mission: Why are we here?

Vision: Where are we headed?

Values: What do we believe in? 

Strategy: How will we move forward on quality, safety, cost, access and equity?   

DebMed pledges to be with you every step of the way as you “Break the Chain of Infection” through hand hygiene.

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Topics: infection control

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The DebMed blog is the go-to source for hand hygiene and infection prevention related discussions occurring in the healthcare industry. Join the conversation! All readers are invited to comment, share stories and information, and post articles of interest.

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