Imagine this scenario: Your patient, in for a routine procedure, dies 10 days post-op because of a mistake you made. That mistake? You didn’t follow hand hygiene protocol and touched the patient after closing the privacy curtain without first washing your hands. This resulted in the transmission of the antibiotic-resistant infection MRSA.
This is an unfortunate reality for an estimated 200,000 patients every year in Canada; 8,000 of which die as a result of their infections. The numbers are even higher in the U.S. with an estimated 687,000 hospital-associated infections (HAIs) and 72,000 deaths per year.
So, what can you do to keep patients safe and limit the spread of HAIs in your facility? It’s simple: wash your hands.
According to the Chief Public Health Officer report on the state of public health in Canada, approximately 80 percent of common infections are spread by healthcare workers, patients and visitors.
While person-to-person contact is the main culprit in the spread of HAIs, contaminated surfaces such as bedrails, call buttons, door handles, elevator buttons, furniture and even privacy curtains can also harbor infection-causing bacteria – some of which can live on hard surfaces for up to five months.
In fact, a September 2018 study published in the American Journal of Infection Control (AJIC) found that patient privacy curtains become progressively contaminated with bacteria, including MRSA, the longer they are hung, with increased MRSA positivity between days 10 and 14.
From privacy curtains to hands, from hands to bed rail, from bed rail to immunocompromised patient; its imperative to educate healthcare workers on proper hand hygiene protocols such as the World Health Organization’s (WHO) “5 Moments for Hand Hygiene” to help prevent transmissions and ensure patient safety.
But just because healthcare workers know about the importance of effective hand hygiene practices doesn’t mean they follow them. People get busy, they cut corners, they’re hands get sore and cracked – there are many reasons why a nurse, doctor or other healthcare staffer may not follow hand hygiene protocols, but compliance is key to reducing the spread of infection within healthcare facilities.
In fact, studies show that when healthcare professionals actively engage in infection prevention measures, including hand hygiene protocols, it’s possible to reduce the rates of certain healthcare-associated infections by more than 70 percent. Studies also show that when hand hygiene is improved through the use of an electronic hand hygiene compliance monitoring system, there is a significant reduction in HAIs.
So how can you increase compliance and patient safety in your healthcare facility? Consider a group behavior change tool such as an electronic hand hygiene monitoring system. Not only do these evidence-based systems serve as a compliance reminder, they provide management with accurate and reliable data to effectively measure and improve hand hygiene performance. Click on the more information button below for resources on hand hygiene solutions for your healthcare facility.