Too much of a good thing? Not possible for hand hygiene compliance, study finds

The well-known idiom that having too much of a good thing can be harmful doesn't apply when it comes to hand hygiene compliance, according to a study in Emerging Infectious Diseases — boosting hand hygiene compliance from an already high rate (85 percent) to higher than 95 percent was associated with a decrease in healthcare-associated infections.

In fact, the study out of Chapel Hill-based University of North Carolina Health showed a 10 percent improvement in hand hygiene was associated with a 6 percent decrease in overall HAIs and a 14 percent reduction in Clostridium difficile infections.

Researchers believe improved hand hygiene was associated with 197 fewer infections and 22 avoided deaths during the 17-month study period.

The improved hand hygiene compliance was the result of a hospitalwide hand hygiene program in which compliance was measured upon entering and leaving patient rooms, and all healthcare personnel were asked to make instant observations and give feedback to one another in the moment, as opposed to using covert observations.

"A program designed to improve hand hygiene compliance among hospital staff successfully engaged all healthcare personnel in monitoring and improving their own hand hygiene compliance," the study concluded. "This pursuit of excellence for hand hygiene compliance led to substantial HAI reductions hospitalwide."


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