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Multifaceted Solutions to Hand Hygiene Compliance

October 25, 2013

Healthcare Hand HygieneHealthcare organizations often ask why DebMed is so vigorous in promoting the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Five Moments for Hand Hygiene compliance where healthcare workers are asked to clean their hands at five key moments in the patient care process.


The answer rests in microbiology.  Healthcare workers have ongoing contact with patients and with patient care environment.  According to WHO’s Guidelines on Hand Hygiene in Health Care, the transmission of microorganisms from one patient to another via healthcare workers’ hands occurs in five steps:


• Microorganisms exist on the patient’s skin.  Or microorganisms exist on inanimate objects adjacent to the patient.
• Microorganisms are transferred to the hands of the healthcare worker.
• Microorganisms survive for several minutes on the healthcare worker’s hands.
• The healthcare worker does a poor job of hand cleaning, skips hand clearing entirely or uses an ineffective or inappropriate hand cleaning agent.
• The healthcare worker’s contaminated hands come into direct contact with another patient or with an inanimate object that comes into contact with the patient.


The nature of microorganisms suggests that the application of WHO’s Five Moments of Hand Hygiene is essential to hand hygiene.  However, it also suggests that barriers to hand hygiene compliance are complex and demand multi-faceted solutions. 


The individual healthcare worker also plays a role in hand hygiene compliance.  Among the beliefs that could interfere with compliance are these:


• “Hand hygiene isn’t necessary if I’m wearing gloves.” 
• “Hand hygiene isn’t needed if my hands look clean.” 
•  “I have too many patients. I don’t have time to wash my hands.”
• “I really don’t understand how to clean my hands.”
• “No matter what I do, I doubt that it’s going to prevent HAIs.” 


Organizational barriers suggest that healthcare organizations must carefully evaluate how well organizational policies, processes, procedures and resources support or compromise hand hygiene compliance.  They must quantify barriers and problems leading to limited hand hygiene compliance, ideally by relying on external consultants and resources.  Only then can they plan and develop the structures and programs to ensure hand hygiene compliance success. 


The same is true of individual barriers to compliance. Only when you investigate staff member’s attitudes, beliefs, values and perceptions related to hand hygiene, along with their willingness to change hand hygiene behavior, will you have information to use to work with vendors to select the best technologies and programs to educate, train, support and monitor staff hand hygiene compliance.   


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.


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