Report: Hand Hygiene in Hospitals Improve But Many Struggle With Safe Practices

By on 5:03 AM

A new report released by nonprofit hospital watchdog The Leapfrog Group revealed that while hospitals nationwide are showing improvement with hand hygiene practices, there is still significant work left to be done to better protect patients and staff from infections.

The results of the 2014 study (pdf) show that there is an increase in the percentage of hospitals meeting all 10 of Leapfrog's hand-hygiene practices. In 2013, 69% of hospitals reportedly met all 10 practices, while that number grew to 77% in 2014. That still leaves nearly one-quarter (23%) of hospitals having not implemented all the safe practices and policies recommended for proper hand hygiene. Amongst other data, the study showed that urban hospitals outshine rural facilities.

Leapfrog's 10 recommended "safe practices" for the purpose of effective hand hygiene include hospital-wide education, report/record keeping and submission to relevant hospital committees and board of directors, and policy and procedure implementation. Leapfrog includes measures that are aligned with and endorsed by the National Quality Forum (NQF) as well as the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and The Joint Commission.

According to an Advisory Board Daily Briefing report, the top and bottom performing states when it came to handwashing regulations were:
1. Oregon (with 100% of hospitals complying with handwashing regulations)
2. New Jersey (94%)
3. Florida (93%)
3. Nevada (93%)
5. Tennessee (90%)

The bottom five states were:
50. Wyoming (44%)
50. Wisconsin (45%)
48. Arizona (50%)
48. New Mexico (50%)
46. Missouri (59%)

According to a Becker's Hospital Review report on a study published in The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety, some of the top issues causing hand hygiene noncompliance include:
  • Healthcare worker forgot
  • Inconvenient placement of hand rub dispenser or sink
  • No hand rub in the dispenser or missing soap at sink
  • Perception that wearing gloves negated need for hand hygiene
  • Ineffective education
  • Inadequate safety culture that doesn't stress the need for everyone to perform hand hygiene
  • Skin irritation from the cleaning productWorkflow was not conducive to proper hand hygiene
While the progress being made in hospitals is encouraging, it is imperative that organizations strive toward 100% hand-hygiene compliance to help prevent harm, including death, from hospital-acquired infections.

Phenelle Segal, RN, CIC, FAPIC

Phenelle Segal, RN, CIC, FAPIC, is the founder and president of Infection Control Consulting Services LLC (ICCS). Phenelle has more than 30 years' experience providing customized comprehensive infection control and prevention services to healthcare facilities nationwide. Her services focus on assisting hospitals, ambulatory surgery centers, dental office and oral surgery practices, doctor's offices, nursing homes and other organizations with implementing and maintaining an infection control program that: complies with The Joint Commission, AAAHC, Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) and other regulatory agencies; respond to situations of noncompliance; and improve the processes for reducing risk.