Medline Launches Nationwide Hand Hygiene Compliance Program

In an effort to spark a change in health care professionals' hand hygiene practices, Medline Industries Inc. (Mundelein, Ill.) announced yesterday the nationwide launch of its Hand Hygiene Compliance Program (HHCP) to hospitals and health care facilities at the 35th annual Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology Educational Conference in Denver.

"Most healthcare-associated infection (HAI) is spread by direct contact, especially via the hands of health workers, and data continues to support hand hygiene as the single most important way of reducing such infections," said Infection Prevention Advisory Board member Linda S. Johnson, MSN, RN, CIC, infection control manager for the University of Missouri. "This program will be an important part of a health care provider's strategy to improve patient outcomes and reduce hospital costs related to HAI."

As the number one defense against healthcare-acquired conditions--it is estimated that handwashing alone could prevent 20,000 patient deaths per year--hand hygiene has an important role to play in the prevention of infections. According to CDC, there are more than 2 million HAIs annually in the United States, resulting in an estimated $30.5 billion in additional health care costs and more than 100,000 inpatient deaths. The federal Medicare program recently announced that beginning in October 2008 it will no longer reimburse for extra costs associated with certain types of HAIs acquired while the patient was receiving care, giving hospitals and health care facilities even more incentive to implement prevention measures such as hand hygiene compliance.

Studies have shown, however, that despite being a proven effective practice, hand hygiene compliance among health care workers is poor, with the World Health Organization reporting an average compliance rate of 40 percent. Skin irritation and dryness caused by frequent hand washing with soap and water, as well as inadequate understanding of hand hygiene guidelines or protocols, are the most often cited reasons for noncompliance. Medline's comprehensive HHCP addresses these issues by combining its best-in-class products for improving skin condition and clinician-reviewed education to improve hand hygiene compliance while dramatically improving the skin condition of health care workers.

In addition to the HHCP product bundle--which includes Sterillium Comfort GelTM, Medline RemedyTM moisturizers, and AloeTouch® exam gloves--the program includes an intensive educational module developed by an expert panel of infection control professionals specifically for clinicians, translating research into practical guidance and tips. Health care workers can earn up to four Continuing Education credits by completing the program. Additional components include testing for skill and competency validation through the use of Visirub and a UV light box. Patient educaton pamphlets, facility posters, and a rewards program are also included to reinforce positive behavior change, Medline says. For more information, visit www.medline.com.

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