report shows hospitals must do more when it comes to hand hygiene

Thanks to the efforts of government officials and the medical community, we are now more aware than ever of the threat posed by hospital-acquired infections and, perhaps more importantly, the steps that health care professionals can — and should — take to help stop their spread in otherwise high-risk facilities like clinics and hospitals.

Indeed, one of these steps that is known to be exceptionally effective, yet relatively simple to execute, is proper hand hygiene practices, meaning the regular washing of hands and/or the use of hand sanitizers.

In an interesting turn of events, however, a recent report from Leapfrog revealed that while hand hygiene practices have improved, more progress is needed.

The report, published last week, centered on hospitals’ implementation of Leapfrog’s ten recommended hand hygiene practices, some of which include the implementation of hospital-wide training and education on hand-hygiene practices, creation of accountability among hospital staff concerning the observance of hand-hygiene practices, documentation of costs relating to hand-hygiene practices, and introduction of protocols designed to prevent the spread of HAIs otherwise attributable to poor hospital-wide hand-hygiene.

Leapfrog determined that while 77 percent of hospitals satisfied all ten of these recommended hand hygiene practices in 2014, up from 69 percent in 2013, almost 25 percent have yet to do this.

Other findings of the report included:

  • Hospitals located in urban settings had higher compliance rates compared with those located in rural settings.
  • Five states saw over 90 percent of hospitals comply with all recommended hand hygiene practices, while six states saw 60 percent or less of hospitals comply with all recommended hand hygiene practices; Pennsylvania’s overall compliance rate was 67 percent.

“There is no excuse for a hospital to fail on hand hygiene,” said Leapfrog’s president and CEO. “It puts patients, clinicians and all health care workers at risk when hand washing is not a priority.”

Let’s hope more hospitals take note of this report and prove willing to do more to keep their patients safe.

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