Recently, The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety published a list of 24 reasons why healthcare workers skimp on their hand hygiene efforts. Some reasons you might expect, while others could be surprising. However, in just about every situation, the excuses can be easily managed by establishing proper education and ongoing communication with hospital staff. Here are the top three groups of excuses and tips for remedying the situation.
Common logistical excuses include: dispensers were inconveniently placed, or the dispenser/sink was broken, empty or missing. Communication between the clinical staff and environmental services at the facility in these situations needs to be managed properly so these matters can be fixed, but in the meantime, healthcare workers should be aware of the next nearest dispenser and begin using that dispenser while the issue is being fixed. Ensuring there are dispensers at the point-of-care can also help so that staff is not inconvenienced in accessing sanitizer, butrather it is easily available as part of their typical workflow.
When healthcare workers complain that the product was unpleasant or caused skin irritation, education - as well as future product selection – is key. For example, understand that not all products are created equally. Ensure that the products onsite are the best available. Foaming sanitizer can be gentler than gels, and is often preferred format among users. Tips on ensuring the best skin health can be found here.
Consider also educating staff about the following:
One of the oldest and most obvious excuses for low hand hygiene compliance is the age-old, “I forgot”. To err is human, but when it comes to the critical patient safety that relies on proper hand hygiene, make sure your staff never has a chance to employ this excuse. Here are just some ways to help remind healthcare workers about the importance of hand hygiene:
With these tips in mind, healthcare officials can quickly and easily promote higher rates of hand hygiene compliance in their facilities through some simple strategies such as education on the importance of cleaning hands effectively, ensuring dispensers are easily available and functioning, and encouraging staff to share the responsibility for practicing proper hand hygiene.
Hand hygiene is a key factor in increasing patient safety within facilities. Know the facts, and you won’t be fooled by these common excuses.
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