It’s been proven time and time again – hand hygiene compliance plays a critical role in reducing HAIs. Even the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) agrees, that 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.
However, hand hygiene as a tool to prevent HAIs can only be effective when practices are followed consistently. There are many effective hand hygiene compliance awareness programs in place for healthcare workers, such as daily huddles, reminder collateral, electronic compliance monitoring systems, etc., but what about on the patient side?
While person-to-person contact is the main culprit in the spread of HAIs, frequently-touched surfaces within the hospital have been proven to harbor infection-causing bacteria.[i],[ii],[iii] These surfaces include door handles and plates, elevator buttons, waiting room furniture and even items within the patient room itself such as bedrails, call buttons, privacy curtains and floors.
In addition to frequent cleaning and disinfection of high-touch surfaces by environmental services professionals, healthcare facilities should implement patient hand hygiene awareness campaigns to promote the importance of handwashing before and after simple, every day actions such as eating.
To promote patient hand hygiene in your healthcare facility, consider the following:
- Make it easy. A recent study published in the American Journal of Infection Control (AJIC) found that when it comes to patient hand hygiene, there is a need for easy-to-use products and convenience. The study found that single-use ethanol hand sanitizer packets took less time to access than single-use moist towelettes (three seconds vs. 23 seconds), and were therefore preferred by 74 percent of patients during mealtime.
- Post reminder collateral in highly-visible locations such as the elevator, restroom, waiting area or patient room. The AJIC study mentioned above also found that performance of patient hand hygiene increased when a reminder was provided at the time of mealtime tray delivery.
- Make it available. Hand sanitizer should be positioned in convenient locations throughout the hospital, as well as in patient rooms within reach of the bed for immobile patients.
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