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WHO’s “Five Moments” Tackle the Realities of HAIs

October 21, 2013

The World Health Organization (WHO) is in the fifth year of its "Save Lives: Clean Your Hands Campaign," a global initiative to help clinicians improve hand hygiene and reduce the number of healthcare-associated infections (HAIs). To add value to any hand hygiene improvement strategy, the WHO defines the key moments for hand hygiene, The WHO Five Moments for Hand Hygiene, and advises healthcare workers to clean their hands:


• before  touching a patient,
• before clean/aseptic procedures,
• after body fluid exposure/risk,
• after touching a patient, and
• after touching patient surroundings


But why are these Five Moments so critical to safe, high quality care? The answer:  Hand hygiene compliance helps to prevent, reduce and eliminate HAIs.


HAIs are among the leading cause of preventable deaths and contribute to increased healthcare costs.  HAIs aren’t confined to hospitals. They’re also found in ambulatory and same-day surgery centers and in long-term care facilities like nursing homes and rehab facilities. 


Within hospitals, HAIs increase length of stay, costs, and morbidity and mortality.  Three out of four HAIs in hospitals result from catheter-associated urinary tract infections, surgical site infections, blood stream infections, and pneumonia, according to the National Action Plan to Prevent Healthcare Associated Infections:  Roadmap to Elimination. 


HAIs are one of the most common complications of hospital care, according to the Agency for Healthcare Quality and Research (AHRQ). Fortunately, the Centers for Disease Control and Preventions (CDC) believes that implementing a comprehensive HAI prevention strategy, including compliance with hand hygiene guidelines,  can generate a 70 percent reduction in HAIs, and cost savings of $25.0 billion to $31.5  billion.  That’s a savings that would have a significantly positive impact for healthcare. 


HAIs are a complex phenomenon.  Healthcare organizations can track their origin to medical procedures, overuse of antibiotics, organizational factors, patient characteristics, medical device use and post-surgery complications.  It’s important to remember that HAIs are rooted in transmissions between patients and healthcare workers.


Healthcare organizations can prevent HAIs only if they introduce processes to educate and train healthcare workers in hand hygiene processes—ideally applying WHO’s Five Moments for Hand Hygiene.  By training healthcare workers to adopt best practices in infection control, including hand hygiene compliance, healthcare organizations can help to reduce and prevent HAIs. 


International Infection Prevention Week 2013 & DebMed


International Infection Prevention WeekIn recognition of, and to shed much needed light on International Infection Prevention Week (Oct 20-26), this is one in a series of blog articles from DebMed dedicated to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Five Moments for Hand Hygiene.  To view all articles in this series as they become available, please click here.


DebMed is the creator of the world’s first electronic hand hygiene compliance monitoring system based on the World Health Organization’s (WHO’s) Five Moments for Hand Hygiene, and these moments dictate our standards for hand hygiene compliance in a tireless effort to decrease the spread of preventable and deadly hospital-acquired infections.


We encourage your feedback and some best practices your organizations use to enhance hand hygiene compliance in response to our blog posts. We wish you a noteworthy and successful International Infection Prevention Week! 


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