Hospitals, Universities Make the Link Between Hand Hygiene Compliance and Decreased Infections

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A new brief from DebMed®, the creator of an electronic hand hygiene compliance monitoring system based on the World Health Organization (WHO)'s "Five Moments for Hand Hygiene," provides a deeper look at the correlation between hand hygiene compliance and increased quality of care and decreased levels of healthcare-associated infections (HAIs).         

Commenting on the issues stemming from a lack of standardized monitoring of hand hygiene in healthcare today, Heather McLarney, vice president of marketing for DebMed, explains, "Hand hygiene compliance and the resulting decrease in HAIs can be correlated directly to reduction of operating costs and maximized reimbursements for hospitals. According to a Duke University study, a 1 percent increase in compliance for a 200-bed hospital could save more than $39,000 annually in costs related to HAIs. In order to preserve the safety of patients and staff and ensure a healthy impact to the bottom line, hospital officials should implement system-wide hand hygiene compliance programs."

Examples of hand hygiene-compliance studies examined in the brief include:


 Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, a 464-bed comprehensive cancer center in New York City, overhauled its approach to hand hygiene by creating small teams that set goals and tracked hand hygiene compliance rates based on  the World Health Organization's (WHO's) hand hygiene guidelines. Hand hygiene compliance reached 97 percent and has remained at that level since the conclusion of the study.

 At Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Md., a three-phase study was conducted in the hospital's 14-bed intermediate care unit concluded that electronic monitoring provided effective ongoing feedback about hand hygiene compliance. Hand hygiene compliance and nosocomial infection rates improved, suggesting that ongoing monitoring and feedback had both a short-term and, perhaps, a longer-term effect.

 In a tertiary care hospital in Buenos Aires, Argentina, a program consisting of focused education and frequent performance feedback over two years led to a sustained increase in hand hygiene compliance from 23.1 percent to 64.5 percent and a concurrent decrease in overall nosocomial infection rate from 47.55 per 1000 patient days to 27.93 per 1,000 patient days.

The brief is available by contacting DebMed at

Reference: Cummings KL, Anderson DJ, Kaye KS. Hand hygiene noncompliance and the cost of hospital-acquired methcillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus infection. Infect Control Hosp Epidemiol (2010).

Source: Deb Group