Clean Your Hands Campaign

February 19, 2013

IMGP2565The World Health Organization — WHO — has long promoted hand-washing as an important way to reduce the risk of spreading infections.  While we all can reduce the risk by washing our hands, we may also assume that healthcare workers would be among the people most likely to practice hand-washing. Apparently not. A study designed to increase hand-washing among healthcare works cites evidence that compliance with the practice is just 25-40%.  The article appears online in PLOS ONE [ a publication of PLOS [ http://www.plos.org/] an organization designed to make peer-reviewed medical research accessible in less time and with less cost than more traditional approaches to publishing scientific results. The research led by Chrsitopher Fuller, “The Feedback Intervention Trial (FIT) — Improving Hand-Hygiene Compliance in UK Healthcare Workers A stepped Wedge Cluster Randomised Trial”, conducted the study in 60 locations that included 16 acute hospitals and 44 general medical wards or acute elderly care sites. All sites were already participating in the “Clean Your Hands” campaign. This campaign includes placing alcohol hand-rub at patient bedsides, using posters and other educational materials to encourage workers to clean their hands. an audit and feedback on compliance was cinluded at least once every six months, so workers knew that the behavior is expected and would be evaluated. The FIT focused on goal-setting for and rewarding of handwashing behavior as an additional compoment to the national campaign.

A significant increase in hand-washing occurred with the FIT, with more change in the 16 intensive therapy units than in the other sites — achieving 13-18% change versus 10-13% change, ranging about 60% to nearly 80% compliance. The improvement declined over time. There were difficulties associated with implementing the protocol, including that the trial place extra responsibilities on some ward staff, who did not receive additional training beyond the initial introduction to the intervention and were not monitored after the initial observation of their placement of materials bedside. To increase the likelihood that such a campaign would be successful over time, the authors recommend that the tasks be integrated into the role of some employees and audited regularly as part of job performance. As for me, I will be watching to be sure healthcare workers wash their hands. And I will do the same.

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