Nurses less likely than physicians to speak up to colleagues with poor hand hygiene

A study published in American Journal of Infection Control examined the likelihood of healthcare professionals speaking up about breaches in infection control, such as nonadherence to hand hygiene protocols.

Researchers conducted a cross-sectional survey study involving 1,217 healthcare professionals in five Switzerland-based hospitals. They studied speaking-up behaviors, safety climate and likelihood to speak up about poor hand hygiene practice described in a vignette.

Here are four survey findings

1. Fifty-six percent of healthcare professionals reported that they would speak up to a colleague with poor hand hygiene practices.

2. Nurses felt more discomfort with speaking up and reported a slightly lower likelihood of speaking up as compared to physicians.

3. Clinical function (hierarchy) was strongly associated with speaking-up behavior.

4. Higher risk of harm to the patient and higher frequencies of past speaking-up behaviors were positively linked with the likelihood to speak up.

"Infection control interventions should empower [healthcare professionals] to speak up about non-adherence with prevention practices by addressing authority gradients and risk perceptions and by focusing on resignation," study authors concluded.

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