National Infection Control Week: A Powerful Reminder to Improve Hand Hygiene

For more than 25 years, the third week in October has been designated as National Infection Control Week -- a time dedicated to sharing and exploring new research, opportunities and design to support infection control across hospitals and long-term care facilities. In honor of this week, and in response to the growing need for streamlined, new-age hygiene practices and equipment, SCA conducted a global Hygiene Matters Survey to garner insights around the current and future view of healthcare hygiene processes.

By Tom Bergin

For more than 25 years, the third week in October has been designated as National Infection Control Week - a time dedicated to sharing and exploring new research, opportunities and design to support infection control across hospitals and long-term care facilities. In honor of this week, and in response to the growing need for streamlined, new-age hygiene practices and equipment, SCA conducted a global Hygiene Matters Survey to garner insights around the current and future view of healthcare hygiene processes.

The survey results highlighted critical gaps in consumer trust and perception of hand hygiene, particularly with regard to healthcare facilities. Specifically, it revealed that hospitals are perceived as the second riskiest environment for infection. In addition, it exposed the perceived need for considerable improvement in hygiene compliance; while 84 percent of respondents say they wash their hands enough, 76 percent believe others don’t wash their hands as often as they should.

Hand hygiene is the single most effective measure for preventing infections related to healthcare; its impact on the reduction of these infections is estimated at 50%. While the majority of healthcare professionals understand that hand washing’s role in mitigating the spread of communicable disease and infection, the survey shows that fear of infection remains a serious concern for patients. Understanding that patients and visitors have enough on their minds when in a healthcare setting, healthcare providers must find opportunities to reduce these fears, in addition to protecting and improving health.

To help reduce fears and the above noted perceptions, the strategic placement of dispensers – from paper towel to sanitizer – can help healthcare institutes increase dispenser use by more than 50 percent. Resources like SCA’s Inspiration Visuals have been developed to guide dispenser placement across hospital entrance, semi-private and private rooms, and the nurse station. In addition, fresh visual content like the posters available on Tork Healthy Hands website have been designed to assist facilities in developing customized collateral that serve as a call to action to keep hygiene top of mind.

Survey respondents were also quick to point out that technology can have a significant impact on making our lives healthier, and modernized healthcare equipment can play a significant role. To capture inventory usage data, designers can implement data-driven technology like Tork EasyCube™. Tork EasyCube captures real-time data to understand inventory usage, improve long-term planning and ensure dispensers are supporting proper hand hygiene protocols.

The need to address patient safety is further reinforced by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ (CMS) recent ruling of modern policies, designed to improve the care of nearly 1.5 million residents that participate in the Medicare and Medicaid programs. Specifically, the policies seek to reduce unnecessary hospital readmissions and infections by improving the quality of care and strengthening safety measures, including mandatory updates to hospital-wide infection prevention and control programs.

With the latest CMS ruling, National Infection Control Week serves as an opportune time to revisit how facilities promote hygiene compliance, and introduce new tactics that can have meaningful impacts on the patient experience, and current consumer perception.

Tom Bergin is marketing director for SCA’s Away from Home Professional Hygiene business in North America, for NICW.

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