Hospital Infection Control Survey Highlights Hand Hygiene

According to an online survey conducted by market research company Perception Solutions Inc. on behalf of several health care associations to determine the extent of hospitals' infection control issues and prevention practices currently in place, hand hygiene and the use of proper gloves with effective barrier protection is high on the list of measures facilities are taking to prevent hospital-acquired infections. The use of preventive antibiotics prior to surgery to avoid surgical site infections is another basic strategy facilities are deploying.

The study, conducted in March on behalf of the American Hospital Association's health business magazine Materials Management in Health Care in cooperation with the Association for Professionals in Infection Control & Epidemiology (APIC) and the Association for Healthcare Resource & Materials Management in Health Care, polled 3,510 members and had a 16.7 percent return rate. All respondents were from hospitals ranging in size from "Less than 50 beds" (22 percent) to "500-999 beds" (13 percent), with the exception of 1 percent of surveys from facilities operating more than 1,000 beds.

When asked, "What steps has your organization taken to prevent hospital-acquired infections?" the responses selected most were: "Mandatory employee training on infection control and hand hygiene," "Ensure the use of proper gloves with effective barrier protection by health care workers," and "Use of preventive antibiotics prior to surgery to avoid surgical site infections." Among other highlights of the survey:

  • Many respondents indicated that their hospital had achieved hand hygiene compliance of 70 percent or higher before as well as after patient contact.
  • "Not thinking about it/forgetfulness," "Too busy/insufficient time," and "Patient needs take priority" were cited as major challenges and barriers to adherence with hand hygiene compliance.
  • A major consequence for workers who fail to comply with hand hygiene protocols was reported as "Feedback given to supervisor."
  • Respondents reported that as a result of their hospitals' initiatives to prevent hospital-acquired infections, many changes had occurred.

The survey included several open-ended questions regarding infection-control issues. Responses to those, which APIC provided verbatim, include:

  • "A visual periodic check of employees' hand washing behavior has been a big help."
  • "Administrators do patient safety rounds watching for hand hygiene compliance. they issue 'tickets' to non-compliant persons. Hand hygiene compliance has improved from 40% to about 60%."
  • "Alcohol foam placed in each patients room and clinical setting."
  • "BUTTONS THAT READ ASK IF I HAVE WASHED MY HANDS. LUNCH TICKETS WHEN SEEN WASHING HANDS. UPPER MANAGEMENT BUY-IN."
  • "Culturing surfaces and reporting the results. Culturing staff's hands and reporting / shows the results to the employee."
  • "HAND WASHING TECHNIQUES HAVE BEEN MAJOR PRIORITY. ARTIFICIAL NAILS HAVE BEEN [ELIMINATED]. ANTIBIOTICS BEFORE SURGERY HAVE BEEN MADE A POLICY. INFECTION CONTROL HAS BEEN MAKING [MANDATORY] HAND WASHING IN O.R. AND PATIENT ROOMS A MUST. A COMMITTEE SHOWS UP UNANNOUNCED TO MONITOR HAND WASHING. WE ARE NOW WORKING ON DOCTORS HAND WASHING."

More information is available at the Materials Management in Health Care Web site, www.matmanmag.com.

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