Joint Commission Partners with Infection Control Leaders to Identify Best Approaches to Measure Hand Hygiene Compliance

OAKBROOK TERRACE, Ill. The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations announces a partnership with major infection control leadership organizations in the United States and abroad to identify best approaches for measuring compliance with hand hygiene guidelines in healthcare organizations. The participating organizations include the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America (SHEA), the World Health Organization (WHO) World Alliance for Patient Safety, the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI), and the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID).

Lack of consensus on how to measure hand hygiene compliance has made it difficult for epidemiologists, infection control practitioners, and quality improvement professionals to determine the effectiveness of hand hygiene expectations across various healthcare settings. 

The final product of this 18-month project will be an educational monograph that recommends best practices for measuring hand hygiene compliance. 

The ability to accurately measure hand hygiene compliance is a key first step in improving hand hygiene practices, says Jerod M. Loeb, PhD, executive vice president of the Division of Research at the Joint Commission. Effective measurement will help health care organizations target interventions, which in turn should improve hand hygiene practices by healthcare workers, and ultimately result in fewer healthcare-associated infections.

I have been studying hand hygiene for years, but we still do not have an ideal way to measure adherence, says Elaine Larson, RN, PhD, FAAN, CIC, scientific advisor for the  project and associate dean for research at the Columbia University School of Nursing, New York. This project will move the field forward in a way that is sorely needed.

Measuring compliance with hand hygiene practices during the delivery of care has long been complicated because of the resources needed to monitor the practices of many different care providers in numerous locations for meaningful periods of time. The absence of a unified approach to measuring hand hygiene performance makes it impossible to determine whether overall performance is improving, deteriorating, or staying unchanged as new strategic interventions are introduced.

The Joint Commissions National Patient Safety Goals require accredited organizations to follow the CDC hand hygiene guidelines; however, multiple studies continue to show suboptimal  compliance with the CDC guidelines. Additional efforts by the Joint Commission to reduce healthcare-associated infections include comprehensive accreditation standards specific to infection control. These standards emphasize infection prevention, continuous strategic surveillance for infection and infection-related risks, and timely interventions to address identified problems. Infection control is an area of special focus during all regular on-site surveys.

Hand hygiene promotion in healthcare centers is also the first Global Challenge of the WHO World Alliance. This initiative, titled, Clean Care is Safer Care, has now produced a comprehensive set of WHO Guidelines for Hand Hygiene in Health Care that are being tested in pilot sites around the world. The project to identify best approaches for measuring compliance with hand hygiene guidelines is supported by an unrestricted educational grant from GOJO Industries.

Source: Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations

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