About hand hygiene in the healthcare setting
Improving hand hygiene among healthcare workers is a key strategy to minimise the spread of antibiotic-resistant organisms within hospitals and has been prioritised by the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care (ACSQHC). Poor hand hygiene compliance among healthcare workers is strongly associated with healthcare associated infection (HAI) transmission and is a major factor in the spread of antibiotic-resistant organisms within hospitals. Improving hand hygiene among healthcare workers will help minimise the spread of antibiotic-resistant organisms within hospitals and has been prioritised by the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care (ACSQHC).
The ACSQHC has engaged Hand Hygiene Australia to implement the National Hand Hygiene Initiative. The National Hand Hygiene Initiative aims to improve hand hygiene compliance of healthcare workers in acute care settings.
Read more about the initiative and find Hand Hygiene Australia's resources:
- Hand hygiene basics
- Five moments for hand hygiene (critical times when hand hygiene should be performed)
- Resources for healthcare workers
Improving hand hygiene compliance in healthcare workers is reliant on a number of factors including, human behaviour, organisational culture and leadership. A multifaceted approach is required in order to achieve improved hand hygiene compliance.
Risks associated with poor hand hygiene
Healthcare associated infections (HAIs) pose a serious threat to people admitted to hospital and contribute to the economic burden of healthcare.
- Micro-organisms are readily transmitted on health care workers' hands
- It is estimated that there are around 200,000 HAIs in Australian hospitals each year1.
- It is possible to reduce HAIs by using effective infection prevention practices, such as improving hand hygiene compliance.1
- Research has shown that improving hand hygiene compliance is about human behaviour, organisational culture and leadership and requires a multifaceted approach to achieve improved hand hygiene compliance.
Hand Hygiene Compliance Application
The Hand Hygiene Compliance Application (HHCApp) has been developed for use by Australian hospitals to conveniently report their Hand Hygiene Compliance rates as part of the National Hand Hygiene Initiative. The HHCApp can be accessed from a mobile web browser, allowing the use of mobile devices to gather data.
For further information or to login please go to the HHCApp page at Hand Hygiene Australia.
There are many reasons for suboptimal hand hygiene compliance among healthcare workers, including:
- Environment - location and/or availability of hand washing sinks
- Organisational - availability of high profile clinical role models
- Psychological - a perceived lack of time for hand hygiene
- Education - for example, misconceptions about when hand hygiene should be performed
- Physical factors - for example skin irritation and dryness
Research has shown that behavioural change requires a multi-level, multidisciplinary, multi-modal program. Hand hygiene compliance programs should consider:
- Education programs
- Feedback and positive reinforcement
- Administrative mandate (and sometimes organisational culture and system change)
- Leadership and motivation
Hand Hygiene Australia (HHA) provides resources and guidance for all Australian healthcare facilities.