Since the early 2000’s, lack of handwashing has been targeted as a main cause of spreading infections. Over the years, Joint Commission has required organizations to develop and implement hand hygiene programs. As of January 1, 2018, the Joint Commission has decided to take another step to ensure hand hygiene is top of mind while providing direct patient care. Surveyors will now cite a deficiency to a hospital if they see any individual failing to perform hand hygiene.
With this in mind, it may be time to review your current guidelines and look for ways to continually improve. Here are a few steps a facility can take to increase its hand hygiene compliance:
- Emphasize and discuss the importance of hand washing before putting gloves on and after taking gloves off. Research indicates that re-educating staff on proper glove use, including when it is appropriate to use gloves, may increase compliance.
- Show the cost savings of proper hand hygiene. A study published in the Journal of Hospital Infection reported that by increasing the compliance from a baseline 10 percent to 20 percent can be cost-effective solely through reduced MRSA bloodstream infections.
- Create an atmosphere where clinicians feel empowered to speak up when they see breaches in the hand hygiene protocols. This can be difficult especially when the professional hierarchy comes into play. Make sure conversation is open and the risks of non-compliance are known by all staff members.
- Perform random audits of hand hygiene and hold all staff accountable. Consider connecting infection compliance with annual staff evaluations. Develop a tiered penalty system for repeat offenders.
- Familiarize yourself with new technology. Researchers have created guided sensors that alert clinicians to perform hand hygiene before engaging with the patient. The recent study showed these continuous notifications increased compliance to 100%. It also reported that the annual cost of this machine was “an estimated 46 percent lower than an observational hand hygiene program.”
Proper hand hygiene performance has been reported to be at 53.8 percent. As a part of your new year resolutions, look at your facility’s protocols and strive to increase this statistic. Implementing some of the above ideas can be a relatively simple way to prevent the spread of hospital acquired infections – helping your patients and your hospital system!
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