Commitment to Hand Hygiene is Cast in Stone at Swiss Hospital

Hand hygiene compliance is frequently less than optimal and often depends on the dedication of the key opinion leaders. Tools to support a role model for hand hygiene include dedicated days, information campaigns and similar activities lead to tremendous, but short-lived impact on the hand hygiene compliance. Psychological studies have shown that a public statement improves compliance with the statement.  Therefore, infectious disease and hospital epidemiology experts at the University of Basel in Switzerland searched for a tool that would trigger a public long-term statement of the key opinion leaders of the hospital.

The University of Basel hospital is a 900-bed tertiary care center with five intensive care units and a kidney and bone marrow transplant program. In January 2011, all key opinion leaders of the university hospital were asked to participate in an action to imprint both their hands on a flagstone. The composition of the flagstone is a plastic that allows the imprint of the hands, and is fixed within one hour. In addition, the names are placed on the flagstone to indicate participation.

Of the 21 key opinion leaders, 20 participated in the study. Flagstones with the hands of the individuals were placed in the main entrance of the hospital restaurant. The names of each participant were placed on the flagstones in copper letters to remind healthcare workers of proper hand hygiene and a commitment to infection control.

Widmer, et al. conclude that imprinted flagstones placed at the hospital motivates key opinion leaders for hand hygiene. The hands of fame flagstones are a new tool to remind each opinion leader on a daily basis on their commitment for hand hygiene. The long-half life of flagstones will likely exceed the lifetime of the individual. Their research was presented at the International Conference on Prevention & Infection Control (ICPIC) held in Geneva, Switzerland June 29-July 2, 2011.

Reference: AF Widmer, H Schuhmacher and S Tschudin-Sutter. Hands of fame: a new tool to improve dedication of key opinion leader for hand hygiene. Presentation at International Conference on Prevention & Infection Control (ICPIC). BMC Proceedings 2011, 5(Suppl 6):P107doi:10.1186/1753-6561-5-S6-P107

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