Patient empowerment is a hot-button topic, particularly as it pertains to patients understanding their health needs and ensuring those needs are met by healthcare workers. But where do hospitals and healthcare workers draw the line between empowering patients and taking ownership for their training - or lack thereof?
In today’s digital age, there is an overload of information for patients looking to “read up” on symptoms and treatment options. Yet it is up to healthcare professionals to walk patients through a diagnosis and treatment plan in order to ensure they receive the best care.
But even with all the vast and sometimes conflicting information across the web, there is one thing that all can agree on: healthcare-associated infections are one of the most serious, yet preventable, threats to patient safety in healthcare facilities.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, roughly one in 25 hospital patients in America contracts an HAI. That comes to an estimated 721,800 sickened annually and 75,000 of those will not survive.
Not only is hand hygiene regarded as the most important way to prevent HAIs, it can also be a highly visual cue for patients who have come to expect a top level of care from their healthcare provider. So what happens when a healthcare professional doesn’t comply with hand hygiene protocols, such as washing or sanitizing hands when entering the patient’s room? Should it be the empowered patient’s responsibility to remind the healthcare provider to wash their hands? The answer is no. It is not the patient’s responsibility to act as a compliance officer. It’s the clinician’s responsibility. Furthermore, as a practical matter, sometimes the staff member may clean their hands in an area not in the patient’s line of sight.
Hand hygiene as a tool to prevent HAIs can only be effective when practices are followed consistently. Studies have clearly shown that hand hygiene compliance plays a critical role in reducing HAIs. In fact, according to the latest HAI Progress Report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), when healthcare professionals actively engage in infection prevention measures, including effective hand hygiene protocols, it’s possible to reduce the rates of certain HAIs by more than 70 percent.
There are many ways to enable healthcare workers to comply with proper hand hygiene protocols as discussed in our recent blog post. From posting reminders in break rooms to implementing electronic monitoring systems, it is critical to implement an effective hand hygiene performance improvement program to improve patient safety and protect patients, visitors and staff – and ultimately a healthcare institution’s brand.
DebMed is the healthcare division of the Deb Group, the world’s-leading occupational skin care and hand hygiene company. DebMed offers a Hand Hygiene Compliance and Skin Care Program which helps hospitals achieve proven clinical outcomes against healthcare-associated infections. It integrates three key elements: essential products safe for frequent use; an electronic compliance system that reliably measures hand hygiene compliance; and best practice tools, resulting in the highest standards of behavior. For more information visit: www.DebMed.com or www.DebMed.ca