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DebMed Blog: Healthcare Hygiene Matters

The Significance of “Culture” in Hand Hygiene Performance

Posted by DebMed on Mar 15, 2018 9:56:37 AM

When it comes to hand hygiene performance in healthcare facilities, how do you establish compliance?

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One new idea from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service’s Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, relies on the concept of “Safety Culture,” originated through studies of non-healthcare organizations that perform complex, hazardous work but manage to maintain a commitment to safety at all levels – from front-line providers to managers and executives. Key features of companies with a Safety Culture include:

 

  • acknowledgment of the high-risk nature of an organization's activities and the determination to achieve consistently safe operations

  • a blame-free environment where individuals are able to report errors or near misses without fear of reprimand or punishment

  • encouragement of collaboration across ranks and disciplines to seek solutions to patient safety problems

  • organizational commitment of resources to address safety concerns

 

It’s an interesting concept, but can it also be applicable to the healthcare industry?

 

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Much like the organizations mentioned above, healthcare organizations also perform complex, hazardous work. The question is what can they do to maintain a commitment to safety at all levels?

 

Hand hygiene compliance in healthcare facilities is an essential component to reducing instances of infection and the spread of germs. 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.

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So what if we took the above concept to create a “Culture of Compliance?” Its key features would be nearly identical:

 

  • acknowledgment of the high-risk nature of a healthcare worker’s activities and the determination to perform effective hand hygiene during each of the WHO 5-Moments (or Canadian 4-Moments).
  • a blame-free environment where healthcare workers are open to gentle reminders when hand hygiene opportunities are missed, and able to report errors or near misses without fear of reprimand or punishment

  • encouragement of collaboration across ranks and disciplines to seek solutions to patient safety problems

  • organizational commitment of resources to address patient safety concerns

 

In healthcare facilities with a poor Culture of Compliance, there could be a number of factors at play: poor communication between leadership and staff, a lack of understanding as to why hand hygiene is important, a lack of organizational commitment, an environment of blame or even resentment that individual employees are being watched.

 

So what’s the answer? As we identified in our previous post on proven tactics to improve hand hygiene compliance within healthcare facilities, the answer is increased communication, real-time feedback, and a team-based approach.

 

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Topics: Patient Safety Awareness Week, hand hygiene compliance, multimodal strategy, Evidence-Based Improvement

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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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