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MENTOR, Ohio -- STERIS Corporation announces the U.S. launch of Partners in Your Care, an evidence-based program shown to increase and sustain hand-hygiene compliance and thus reduce healthcare-acquired infections by partnering patients with healthcare workers.
"Think about this the next time you visit a medical facility. Research indicates that more than 60 percent of healthcare workers do not properly wash or sanitize their hands prior to treating a patient," said Robert Mosher, vice president of applied infection control for STERIS Corporation. "Consequently, the spread of infection by worker to patient contact in healthcare settings continues to be a serious problem."
The numbers are staggering: the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that there are 2 million annual healthcare-acquired infections, 90,000 related deaths and $5 billion in added hospital costs in the United States. The CDC estimates one-third of healthcare-acquired infections are preventable through infection control programs and improvements in hand hygiene.
"Managers of healthcare facilities, researchers, medical device manufacturers and other policy setting organizations have not ignored this problem. We have worked together for years on infection control policies and standards for improving patient care," added Mosher. "Progress has been made, but more education is needed and patient involvement is critical."
To provide that education and boost consumer empowerment, STERIS Corporation is working with Dr. Maryanne McGuckin, senior research investigator and adjunct associate professor at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, to promote the benefits of the Partners in Your Care program.
McGuckin, an expert in infection control, invented the Partners in Your Care program and served on the CDC team that developed and in 2002 published hand hygiene guidelines for healthcare workers.
In recent years, the CDC and the Joint Commission on the Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO), the predominant standard-setting body for more than 15,000 healthcare organizations in the United States, and some state legislatures have become more aggressive to reduce the spread of infection in healthcare facilities. Pennsylvania, Illinois, Missouri and Florida have enacted laws requiring facilities to track and disclose healthcare-acquired infections. Other states are also considering legislation.
Among its recent actions, JCAHO now recommends that medical facilities document and investigate serious cases of healthcare-acquired infections. JCAHO also revised its infection control standards to mandate compliance with formerly voluntary CDC hand hygiene guidelines. JCAHO's deadline for healthcare facilities to implement the CDC hand hygiene guidelines was Jan. 1, 2005.
JCAHO is conducting unannounced audits of healthcare facilities to evaluate their compliance with its enhanced infection control standards.
"Education is a key component in the fight against the spread of healthcare-acquired infections," commented McGuckin. "People often do not realize that by simply washing their hands, they can help prevent the spread of infection and save lives."
In addition to recommending hand hygiene procedures, the CDC hand hygiene guidelines also stress the need for patients to take a more active role in managing their care. The CDC's guidelines cite Partners in Your Care as a proven strategy for improving hand hygiene compliance.
"Partners in Your Care is designed to make patients and healthcare workers accountable for controlling the spread of infection," said McGuckin. "Patients need to understand that it is okay to ask healthcare workers if they have washed their hands prior to receiving treatment."
McGuckin added that Partners in Your Care not only facilitates communication between patients and healthcare workers; the program also provides healthcare facility managers with around-the-clock measurement tools to document worker hand hygiene compliance rates and benchmark their compliance.
The Partners in Your Care program is available to all healthcare facilities. STERIS Corporation will be sponsoring a series of Internet-based multimedia conferences to educate medical professionals about the benefits of enrolling in the program. The first conference will be held Thursday, April 21.
"These events will provide local healthcare facility managers with an opportunity to interact with Dr. McGuckin, healthcare facility infection control workers currently using the Partners in Your Care program, and other infection control experts to learn more about improving patient care," said Mosher.
Additional information about infection prevention, including advice for patients and clinical information for healthcare professionals, is accessible through a special hand hygiene content area of http://www.steris.com/aic/partners.cfm.
Source: STERIS Corporation