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Hand Hygiene: Your Entrance Door to Safer, More Effective Interdisciplinary Care

DebMed
May 05, 2015

476220329-1.jpgMay 5 is the World Health Organization’s (WHO’s) annual Save Lives: Clean Your Hands Day. It’s a time for healthcare professionals to reflect on the impact of hand hygiene compliance on care quality and outcomes. This year’s theme as designated by the WHO is: Strengthening healthcare systems and delivery – hand hygiene is your entrance door.

 

In its May 5 materials, the WHO calls out a quote from Charles Vincent, Imperial College London and University of Oxford, in which he said, “Once you think you’ve done safety and you’re sorted, then you’re in trouble.” The WHO theme this year is calling out the problem that hand hygiene is many times overlooked as an area that is “sorted out,” when, in fact, weaknesses exist. When political and social challenges to hand hygiene are overcome, tremendous results can be achieved, as evidenced by the millions of lives saved by hand hygiene in the last few years.

 

To further this progress, the WHO is urging healthcare providers around the globe to mobilize on May 5 and harness the power of hand hygiene. Following are several concepts you’ll want to share with colleagues to commemorate this important day, which positions hand hygiene as an “entrance door” to a more effective healthcare system.

 

To further this progress, the WHO is urging healthcare providers around the globe to mobilize on May 5 and harness the power of hand hygiene. Following are several concepts you’ll want to share with colleagues to commemorate this important day, which positions hand hygiene as an “entrance door” to a more effective healthcare system.

 

Hand hygiene extends across the continuum: Hand hygiene compliance drives enhanced care delivery and outcomes across the continuum. But doing so demands that providers move from siloed, episodic and fragmented hand hygiene practices to a more coordinated, evidence-based and team oriented approach that puts healthcare consumers and patients at the center. That, in turn, means combining evidence-based hand hygiene practices with coordinated plans of care and collaboration tools that improve outcomes and the consumer and patient experience.

 

Hand hygiene compliance is supported by evidence. Research shows that specific infections like C. difficile can double hospital readmission rates and length of stay, according to an April 2015 study in the American Journal of Infection Control. The consequences are serious. Hospitals could incur penalties as part of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) programs under the Affordable Care Act aimed at improving quality of care; compromise patient and provider safety; and erode consumer trust, loyalty and engagement. Total hand hygiene compliance can help minimize or prevent these problems.     

 

Hand hygiene compliance is personal responsibility and a team sport. Providers should focus on individual accountability for hand hygiene compliance. However, they should also point to a future where empowered, interdisciplinary care team members practice hand hygiene compliance as they transition patients from an inpatient hospital stay to other care settings.

 

Looking forward, cross-continuum, patient-centered care teams will participate in virtual huddles on hand hygiene compliance and incorporate evidence-based hand hygiene guidelines into patient transitions. By collaborating and standardizing hand hygiene practices, organizations will transition patients in a way that improves outcomes and reduces readmissions. One way to emphasize the role of team-based compliance is to invite providers to participate in a hand hygiene relay or another team-oriented activity. It is also important to share and discuss hand hygiene compliance data at the team level to encourage a group-based approach to increasing performance, which studies have shown to result in higher and longer-sustained improvement than singling out individuals, which can be seen as punitive.

 

Hand hygiene compliance is a litmus test. High rates of infection and readmissions often indicate poor hand hygiene compliance. In the same way, poor hand hygiene compliance often points to enterprise-wide gaps in safety and quality standards, policies, and procedures. As organizations monitor and evaluate hand hygiene compliance rates, they can easily pinpoint related safety control problems and develop strategies that offer long-term, sustainable solutions to infection prevention and control.  

 

The future is bright. Hand hygiene will remain a priority throughout the U.S. and Canada. U.S. healthcare organizations will champion health hygiene compliance as a pathway to reduced readmissions and penalty avoidance. Canada, in turn, will move forward with its longstanding Public Health Agency of Canada campaign to monitor hand hygiene practice and promote hand hygiene compliance.    

 

Success will hinge on providers’ ability to link hand hygiene to the patient experience and journey and team-based, collaborative care across the continuum. So this May 5, remember that hand hygiene is a gateway and entrance to a healthcare system anchored in quality, safety, efficiency, cost management and improved outcomes. For more information, click here.

 

To read the original article please visit the DebMed Blog.

  

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