A new hand hygiene program which started in June will serve as a key tool to reduce hospital acquired infections—an FY 2012 goal. Moving toward zero hospital infections begins with hand hygiene compliance, according to Judy Hagerty, RN, MS, CIS, Infection Preventionist at Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital.
Under Hagerty’s guidance, Henry Mayo instituted a hand hygiene compliance observation program this month for every clinical department at the hospital. Here is how it works. A “secret shopper” will observe at least 25 hand cleanings opportunities per month and then report on specific findings such as did hand hygiene take place; what was used to clean hands (soap and water or gel); were hands cleaned the proper way and for a sufficient amount of time (20 seconds); who was being observed. There will be a secret shopper for both day and night shifts and they will be alternated regularly. Reports will be made monthly to the departments.
“This will give us a very accurate idea of true hand hygiene compliance,” Hagerty said.
“It’s all really about the safety of the patient. The number one cause of infections is lack of compliance with hand hygiene. Preventing infections ensures that our patients have the best quality of care. Infection control is a continuous process of interventions and quality improvement that move us toward eradicating infections.”
The program will be ongoing and departments will be provided feedback regularly, Hagerty said, adding that once people see their compliance rates, they become more compliant. The key is giving feedback to the clinical departments, and there will be incentives such as prizes for high performers.
“I’ve seen compliant rates at other hospitals where I’ve worked go up to 85% and that is excellent,” she said. Of course, we want ours at 100%. Increasing hand cleaning compliance ultimately lowers all types of infection rates and that is the goal.”
For more information or to get a hand cleaning demo, call Hagerty at ext 8231.
In the past few months, Henry Mayo has been mounting additional alcohol hand hygiene dispensers throughout the hospital. The goal is to increase the number of dispensers by 50%. When used properly, alcohol-based hand gel is more effective at removing germs from hands than washing with soap and water. Using the hand gel is faster and easier than finding a sink to wash hands.