Maryland Hospital Hand Hygiene Collaborative is Launched


Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown today kicked off  the Maryland Hospital Hand Hygiene Collaborative campaign to enhance the prevention of healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) in Maryland hospitals.

HAIs are the most common adverse event encountered by hospitalized patients and cost the nation an estimated $30 billion in added healthcare costs. This initiative is a recommendation of the Maryland Health Quality and Cost Council (MHQCC) and is being implemented by the Maryland Patient Safety Center.

“This hand hygiene collaborative will protect staff and patients from infection in the healthcare setting,” said Brown, chairman of the MHQCC. “We know that no other single behavior or activity can save lives and prevent healthcare-associated infections better than comprehensive handwashing by care providers. This initiative makes good public health sense and will save healthcare dollars at the same time.”

Support for the Collaborative is provided, in part, through a cooperative funding agreement to support surveillance and prevention of healthcare-associated infections that was received by the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).

“When community hospitals and public agencies work collaboratively, great things can happen,” said Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DHMH) secretary John M. Colmers and vice chairman of the MHQCC.  “Hand hygiene is a critical factor in preventing the spread of viruses and bacteria that can cause potentially devastating infections. Maryland’s well-established track record of fighting healthcare-associated infections and our commitment to prevention has been recognized by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention with this award.”

According to Chesley Richards, MD, MPH, deputy director of the Centers for Disease Control and Provention’s Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion, “By funding critical state-based prevention efforts, we are making a significant investment toward progress on the national prevention targets that are outlined in the HHS action plan, and, ultimately, the elimination of HAIs.”

This cooperative funding agreement enables the state and hospitals to move quickly to further the goal of reducing HAIs in Maryland.  Substantial progress in data collection – and resulting improvement in patient care – is well underway with the work of the Maryland Health Care Commission’s (MHCC) HAI Advisory Committee.

“The Maryland Patient Safety Center is proud of Maryland hospitals’ commitment and is pleased to lead their collective efforts to improve hand hygiene,” said William Minogue, MD, FACP, executive director of the Maryland Patient Center.

As of July 1, 2008, all Maryland hospitals have enrolled in the CDC’s National Healthcare Safety Network and are using this system to collect data on certain infections in hospital intensive care units (ICUs) and are reporting that data to the Commission.  The MHCC is collecting data on active surveillance testing for methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) in ICUs and data on health care worker influenza vaccination rates.

The prevention and reduction of healthcare-associated infections is a top priority for all states. According to the Action Plan to Prevent Healthcare-Associated Infections released earlier this year by U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), healthcare-associated infections exact a significant toll on human life. They are among the leading causes of preventable death in the United States, accounting for an estimated 1.7 million infections and 99,000 associated deaths in 2002. In hospitals, they are a significant cause of morbidity and mortality. In addition to the substantial human suffering caused by healthcare-associated infections, the financial burden attributable to the infections is staggering.

Gov. Martin O’Malley created the Maryland Health Quality and Cost Council to focus on priorities for improving health care across the state. Chaired by Lieutenant Governor Anthony G. Brown, the Council brings together health care leaders and other interested parties in Maryland to collaborate on ways to improve quality and contain costs across the public and private sectors. The Evidence-Based Medicine Workgroup and the Council have selected hand hygiene as a key initiative, with a goal of increasing hand hygiene compliance among hospital professionals to reduce healthcare-associated infections. The Maryland Hospital Hand Hygiene Collaborative is being launched as a result. For further information, visit



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