HCW Survey Reveals Lack of Support for Hand Hygiene Prompts from Patients

About one-third of healthcare professionals -- including physicians and nurses -- said they do not welcome the concept of inviting patients to remind them to wash their hands. The results are from a survey conducted to assess caregivers' perceptions of hand hygiene reminders.

A new approach to boosting healthcare worker hand hygiene compliance is to encourage patient involvement, a strategy recommended by a number of organizations and authorities worldwide, including the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  The researchers surveyed a sample of healthcare workers at the University of Geneva Hospitals to investigate the degree to which they wish to be reminded by patients to perform hand hygiene and to identify sociodemographic variables and beliefs influencing their views.

Yves Longtin, MD, an assistant professor and infectious disease microbiologist in the department of microbiology and infectious diseases at Laval University and Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Quebec in Quebec City, Canada, and colleagues, reported their findings in a research letter published online Sept. 3, 2012 in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Longtin and colleagues evaluated the level of acceptance of wearing a badge to invite patients to ask about hand hygiene, and they assessed the variables associated with the support of patient inquiry. They found that out of 277 respondents, 29 percent did not support the idea of being reminded by patients  to perform hand hygiene -- even though 74 percent of respondents said they believed that patients could help prevent healthcare-associated infections.  Twenty-seven percent of respondents said that a hand hygiene inquiry was not part of the patient's role. Thirty-seven percent said they would not consent to wearing a badge inviting patients to ask about hand hygiene.

The researchers also found that 44 percent of respondents said they would feel guilty if patients discovered that they skipped hand hygiene, and 43 percent said they would feel ashamed to disclose such a fact.

Reference: Longtin Y, Farquet N, Gayet-Ageron A,  Sax H and Pittet D. Caregivers' Perceptions of Patients as Reminders to Improve Hand Hygiene. Arch Intern Med. Sept. 3, 2012. doi:10.1001/archinternmed.2012.3641