PDI’s director of clinical affairs speaks with ICT® about the annual focus on the most fundamental way to protect patients and health care workers alike.
May 5 is World Health Organization’s (WHO’s) annual World Hand Hygiene Day and its slogan: “Unite for safety: Clean your hands.” On the WHO’s website, it says the campaign objectives are “To recognize that people of all levels should work together to influence the culture/climate through clean hands knowledge and behavior, to meet the common goal of safety and quality in the health care organization.”
To discuss the meaning of the day and what it means for infection preventionists, Infection Control Today® (ICT®) spoke with Debra A. Hagberg, MT(ASCP), CIC, director of clinical affairs for PDI, about what WHO describes as “a health care ‘quality and safety climate or culture’ that values hand hygiene and infection prevention and control.”
Infection Control Today®: Why is PDI highlighting World Hand Hygiene Day?
Debra A. Hagberg, MT(ASCP), CIC: PDI is highlighting World Hand Hygiene Day to prioritize the importance of hand hygiene to help prevent infection and save lives. As an organization, we are dedicated to leading the fight against preventable infections in health care, food service and our communities. The most important practice for prevention of disease transmission is meticulous hand hygiene. This is the most basic infection prevention practice that we can do; however, it is so often not performed well or not performed at all.
When an organization or a community makes a concerted effort to promote hand hygiene and infection prevention in general, this will result in improved patient, consumer, and employee safety and reduced overall risk of infection. The theme for World Hand Hygiene Day 2022 is “Unite for Safety: clean your hands.” PDI is in a great position to provide support and encouragement on cleaning hands at the right times, the right frequency and with the right products for this endeavor. We are ready to unite and be the difference!
ICT®: What are the key 5 hand hygiene tips, and would you please expand on them?
DB: Within health care, we promote the 5 Key Moments for Hand Hygiene. These moments are evidence-based and logical and, therefore, should be easy to follow.
ICT®: What is the takeaway for infection preventionists?
DB: A key takeaway for infection preventionists is that there is not one strategy for hand hygiene to fit all institutions to be successful. Hand hygiene is a simple yet complex infection prevention measure to implement. The WHO Multimodal Hand Hygiene Improvement Strategy is a great resource for infection preventionists to access. It consists of a guide to implementation and a range of tools designed to facilitate implementation of each component. At its core is a multimodal strategy consisting of 5 implementation steps:
ICT®: Do you have anything else you would like to add?
DB: After 30 years of being an infection preventionist, it still surprises me to see the low level of hand hygiene compliance within health care. As a former clinical lab microbiologist, I do think about the germs that are unseen and the chain of infection daily. My dry hands from constant washing are a true testament to that. Hand hygiene does not always get the notoriety that it deserves. The connection that a simple infraction could lead to a nasty outbreak within an institution leading to serious infections or deaths is not always in the forefront of our HCWs minds. It does take involvement of everyone within health care to assume accountability of supporting a hand hygiene program. Programs that involve a multidisciplinary team and that celebrate sustained high hand hygiene levels through a rigorous monitoring program are the programs to benchmark with.
With celebrating annual World Hand Hygiene Day, it is an opportunity for health care organizations to pause and evaluate hand hygiene within their institution and to re-commit to patient and employee safety through the aspect of hand hygiene.