Study: Proper Hand Hygiene Practices Significantly Reduce Infections in Nursing Homes

By on 7:51 AM

The results of a new study indicate that infection prevention practices focused on hand hygiene protocols can help save lives in nursing homes and likely other healthcare facilities as well.

The study, "Impact of a multicomponent hand hygiene–related intervention on the infectious risk in nursing homes: A cluster randomized trial," was published in the February issue of the American Journal of Infection Control (AJIC), the journal of the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC).

For the study, researchers reviewed the impact of implementing a multicomponent hand hygiene program that prompt staff, residents and visitors to wash hands. Interventions included availability of alcohol-based handrub, hand hygiene promotional campaign with posters and events, staff education and local work groups.

From April 2014 through April 2015, the study assessed 26 French nursing homes, with half assigned randomly to an intervention group, half to a control group. Researchers concluded that following proper protocols can help reduce mortality and antibiotic prescription rates.

The study is among the first to assess hand hygiene practices outside of the acute-care hospital setting through a randomized controlled trial, according to an APIC news release.

"Hand hygiene protocols have traditionally focused on acute care settings," said Laura Temime, the study’s lead author and a professor at the Conservatoire National des Arts et Métiers, in the news release. "Our study is changing this narrative, underscoring that we can take a proven intervention practice and make it work outside of the hospital space, by specifically adapting it to long-term settings."

As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention note, while data about infections in long-term care facilities like nursing homes and skilled nursing facilities are limited, it has been estimated in medical literature that:
  • 1 to 3 million serious infections occur every year in these facilities;
  • infections include urinary tract infection, diarrheal diseases, antibiotic-resistant staph infections and many others; and
  • infections are a major cause of hospitalization and death; as many as 380,000 people die of the infections in long-term care facilities annually.
For assistance with implementing proper nursing home infection prevention practices, contact Infection Control Consulting Services.

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.