Hand Washing – The First Line of Infection Control

June 20, 2012
William Balfour

hand washingSt. Mary’s Hospital in Madison, WI recently launched an initiative to improve their hand washing rates – read about it here. In their research, they looked at organizations that had achieved success in hand washing and found that Novant Health “had achieved 99 percent hand-hygiene compliance and 63 percent reduced methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureusTM (MRSA) infections through a creative, comprehensive campaign. Novant generously made its campaign materials downloadable for free atTM WashingHandsSavesLives.orgTM to any organization.”

Improve infection control by encouraging the staff to wash their hands

Check out the WashingHandsSavesLives.org link TM for creative and eye-catching posters, videos, mirror-clings and more to encourage staff to wash their hands.

We’ve had several surveys and webinars at iVantage where partner hospitals have hand washing shared tips and strategies.

A recent iVantage survey gathered these ideas for improving & maintaining hand washing compliance. If you are an iVantage partner, login and search the KnowledgeWeb for more hand washing ideas!

Everyone used observation as a compliance tool; some hospitals also measured the amount of soap & gel used and a monthly surveillance tool to monitor compliance.  One hospital reported that unit-based observers had a monthly hand hygiene quota to achieve.
The majority of the respondents said they were able to keep their compliance rates high by ongoing education & focus on hand hygiene and with champions/mentors on the unit. TM  Other ways hospitals reinforced compliance:
  • Kudos & oops tickets
  • Simple slogans as reminders (“Wash in, wash out”)
  • Soap & alcohol rub dispensers are available and accessible
  • MoisturizerTM as a component of the alcohol rub to ward off dry, cracked skin
  • Informing patients “It’s OK to ask your provider to wash hands.”
  • Hospital epidemiologist sends strongly-worded letters to non-compliant physicians
  • Publishing each units’ results
  • Hand culturing program

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