10 latest healthcare hand hygiene findings

Hand hygiene is a key aspect of improving healthcare quality and reducing infection rates. Here are 10 most recent findings on hand hygiene.

1. Peer pressure may be more effective than the promise of a cash bonus in improving hand hygiene compliance rates, according to a study detailed in a Harvard Business Review article. Researchers studied the impact of a program wherein hospital employees could all earn a $1,200 bonus if the hospital as a whole met the compliance target. However, since physicians are not hospital employees, they were not eligible for the cash bonus, but their compliance still counted toward the overall target rate. So other employees used other ways to encourage physicians to improve hand hygiene compliance, including writing physicians' names on paper cards and posting them on a wall.

2. A study, published in the Journal of Hospital Infection, examined the effect of a music-based intervention on hand disinfection duration. Researchers recorded surgical hand disinfections performed by 236 healthcare workers on video. The workers were divided into an intervention group and control group. The intervention group could hear background music as they disinfected their hands.

3. Text messaging via smartphones can help increase hand hygiene compliance among healthcare workers, a study published in the American Journal of Infection Control found. Researchers examined 18 healthcare workers for 12 months using a radiofrequency identification system. During this time, the workers were sent one of two types of text messages — congratulation or encouragement.

4. Physician compliance with hand hygiene protocols may improve when physicians are asked to offer hand sanitizer to patients before washing their hands with the sanitizer themselves, according to a study published in the Annals of Family Medicine. The study involved two parts — one that included patient observation without an intervention to encourage physicians to offer patients hand sanitizer; and the second involved observations made after the intervention was implemented.

5. A study in the American Journal of Infection Control shows that team building and a positive culture in a hospital unit helps improve compliance with hand hygiene recommendations. The study involved installing an automated hand hygiene surveillance system in a hospital and giving daily feedback to clinicians in two wards.

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6. A study, published in The Journal of Hospital Infection, shows that bedside hand hygiene is improved when one or two extra healthcare workers are present in the room. For the study, the researchers analyzed hand hygiene compliance and associated factors with a radiofrequency identification-based, real-time, continuous automated monitoring system in an infectious disease ward.

7. A multifaceted educational intervention led to an increase in hand hygiene compliance from 28.9 percent to 51.4 percent. The two-month intervention included talks on hand hygiene and benefits of alcohol-based hand rub, visual aids, wall-mounted alcohol-based hand rub dispensers and personal bottles of alcohol-based hand rub. The study results were published in Antimicrobial Resistance & Infection Control.

8. Auditing and providing feedback resulted in sustained high compliance levels at a Lebanese hospital, a study published in American Journal of Infection Control found. Nurses at the hospital participated in a lecture about the World Health Organization's "My 5 Moments for Hand Hygiene." They were then divided into three groups: a control, an incentive-based group and an audit-feedback group. 

9. A study in Emerging Infectious Diseases found that boosting hand hygiene compliance from the already high rate of 85 percent to higher than 95 percent was associated with a decrease in healthcare-associated infections. Hand hygiene compliance improved due to the implementation of a hospital-wide program that involved measuring compliance when entering and leaving patient rooms, among other interventions.

10. A military practice helped boost the hand hygiene compliance in an Ohio hospital to 94 percent. The military practice involved implementing a safety stand-down, stopping nonessential hospital activities on all units to discuss action plans to improve hand hygiene. The hospital detailed the results of the implementation in Journal of Patient Safety.

More articles on healthcare quality:

Johns Hopkins opens $24M specialty practice for infectious disease patients
Washington mumps outbreak now tops 820 cases
Study: Stool samples can be used to diagnose advanced liver disease

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