Patient Participation in Hand Hygiene Faces Obstacles, Including Healthcare Worker Annoyance

Although healthcare workers say that patient participation in hand hygiene protocols would be helpful, about one-third of these healthcare professionals admit that they would not like to be reminded by patients to wash their hands, reports researcher Yves Longtin, MD, of Geneva University Hospital, in a presentation of his data at the 50th Interscience Conference on Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy held in Boston this week.

This is just one of several findings from a survey Longtin conducted to assess hand hygiene practices among 750 randomly selected physicians and nurses working at a teaching hospital. Respondents completed a 10-minute survey that questioned them about their knowledge and perception of hand hygiene and patient participation programs; Longtin reports that 60 percent of respondents said they believed that medical errors could be prevented by patient collaboration, and that 58 percent said that patient participation could improve hand hygiene practices and compliance. Longtin also reports that 30 percent of respondents said they would not appreciate being reminded of hand hygiene by a patient, and 43 percent said they would feel humiliated to admit to forgetting to perform hand hygiene to a patient. Longtin also says that 16 percent of respondents said patients would have to take some responsibility for a poor outcome if they participated in a facility's hand hygiene program.

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