This is the first of a five-part series that covers best practices for driving effective hand hygiene compliance. The series will discuss the impact product and behavior drivers have on compliance, including: key considerations of hand sanitizer (wet time, coverage and efficacy); the importance of product availability, location and ease of use; the critical role of educating staff on why, when and how to clean hands; and the role that monitoring and feedback plays in improving staff compliance.
Hospitals, health systems and other health facilities along the continuum of care face ongoing challenges related to infection prevention and control. Working together, clinicians and executives have already made progress towards the ultimate goal of eliminating infections that compromise the health and safety of hospital patients, according to a 2015 report from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). However, the CDC believes that hospitals can still do much to boost infection control rates.
Hand hygiene is poised to play an indispensable role in infection control--especially given the ongoing challenges of potentially deadly bacteria including Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA) and vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE). Some scientists forecast that MRSA treatment with one antibiotic could compromise performance of other antibiotics.
Healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) like MRSA and VRE also pose serious financial risks. The federal government cut payments to more than 700 hospitals with high rates of infection, according to Modern Healthcare. Among those cited were high-profile institutions like Cleveland Clinic, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia and Geisinger Medical Center.
Beyond pushing for enhanced infection control, hospitals and health systems continue the drive for high-quality, safe, efficient and cost-effective care. Meanwhile, they must confront new and emerging challenges—from value-based accountable care and population health management, to patient engagement and an enhanced patient and provider experience. Also on the horizon: frameworks like the “social determinants of health,” which calls on providers to “create social and physical environments that promote good health for all.”
To aid in the fight against HAIs, growing numbers of hospitals across the U.S. and Canada have re-focused efforts to increase staff hand hygiene compliance, recognizing the key role it plays in reducing the spread of infection. The main challenges are that healthcare workers are not performing hand hygiene as often as they should, and often when they do, it is done incorrectly. Combatting these issues requires that providers examine and take control of multiple drivers that influence behavior, including dispenser location, education, and hand hygiene product selection and use. These issues will be discussed in more detail in the upcoming posts.