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DebMed Blog: Healthcare Hygiene Matters

Creative Campaigns Can Improve Hand Hygiene Compliance

Posted by DebMed on May 21, 2015 9:30:00 AM

Hand cleaning is the single most effective way to control the spread of disease, so it makes sense that proper education is a key priority for healthcare facilities. Given the patient safety implications, lack of proper hand hygiene compliance should not be tolerated.


Some healthcare facilities have implemented their own initiatives to help drive better compliance:

  • Want to be considered for employment at Cork University Hospital or Bantry General Hospital in Ireland? You should complete their online hand hygiene course and have your certificate ready or you won’t be considered.
  • Do you want to further your studies while you’re working at St. James Hospital in Dublin? You better get trained in hand hygiene first.
  • Would you like a parking permit while working at Connolly Hospital in Dublin? Then you need to complete their mandatory hand hygiene training.
  • Cleaning your hands with celebrities – could it get any better? Providence VA Medical Center in Rhode Island featured Elvis and other (cut out) celebrities to encourage patients to remind staff to clean their hands.
  • Do you care if the public can see your hand hygiene compliance rates? If you work at Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre in Barrie, Ontario you’ll care. They post their scores in all heavily trafficked areas throughout the facilities. Those places include all entrances, the food court and near staff badge-in kiosks. Plus, you don’t want their “Bug Busters” coming after you!

Are these initiatives extreme? Absolutely not, considering the fact that MRSA, a superbug that resists antibiotics, is a bigger factor in healthcare than it ever has been before. In 1993, there were less than 2,000 cases reported and in 2005 there were nearly 368,000 cases. Proper hand hygiene is more critical now than ever.

These initiatives are creative and action-provoking but are they effective? If compliance is only being captured by direct observation, your data will always be skewed. Gathering real-time and accurate data from a proven electronic hand hygiene compliance monitoring system will help measure the true impact of these internal initiatives designed to drive compliance.

Furthermore, making the impact of these initiatives last over time is a key factor in success. Having high spikes in compliance is great but sustaining those high rates of compliance is the reason these programs were created in the first place. Below are a few tips on how to use internal campaigns to maintain exceptional hand hygiene compliance:

  • Ongoing education – ensure that you offer multiple classes throughout the year for your staff.
  • Reminder tools – repetition is key, so the more times someone reads/sees something, the more likely they are to remember it. Using posters, mirror decals and screensavers are a few ways to help remind staff.
  • Feedback – make sure that your staff knows what the compliance rate is for their unit at any given time. If they don’t know the compliance rate is low then how could they focus on improvement? Post daily or weekly updates in the break room and announce compliance rates at shift meetings.

What is the magic formula? While there is no silver bullet, these tips will get you on the right track. Get your staff trained and educated. Get accurate data. Sustain high hand hygiene compliance.


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Topics: hand hygiene compliance, campaigns

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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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