Nursing Notes

June 3, 2010

Hand Hygiene in Hospitals Not Up to Par

As a working nurse in a psychiatric hospital, I can attest to the fact that handwashing is not always done.  There are many reasons for this omission–lack of time, lack of facilities, lack of interest, etc.  In this day of superbugs and resistant bacteria, it would seem that hand washing would be embraced as a first line of defense.

But, to clarify even more, on my floor there are only three sinks available to actually wash your hands.  One is in the bathroom in the treatment room, which is off the unit and through two locked doors.  One is in the bathroom in the front medication room and accessible only if you have a medication room key.  The last one is in the medication room for the back unit and is off the combined nurses’ station.  Hand hygiene dispensers are everywhere, but not always filled.  After three or four uses of the alcohol rub, your hands become gummy and tacky.  So, hand washing is a real problem for us.

How is hand washing handled in your facility?  Do you think your hospital is better than the average 34%?

Here is another great example of Nursing Research at work.  Please read the entire article and let me know your thoughts.


By Chris Emery, Contributing Writer, MedPage Today
Published: May 31, 2010
Reviewed by Zalman S. Agus, MD; Emeritus Professor
University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and
Dorothy Caputo, MA, RN, BC-ADM, CDE, Nurse Planner

Nurses and other healthcare providers complied with hand hygiene guidelines less than half of the time before participating in medical procedures, results of a new study showed.

Compliance was better after procedures, with 72% following guidelines after procedures compared with 41.7% before procedures, according to a report published in the May issue of Applied Nursing Research.

Overall compliance with hand hygiene guidelines was just 34.3%.

“It is important to note that preprocedure hand hygiene intends to protect patients against infections and maximize risk reduction, whereas postprocedure hand hygiene intends to protect the healthcare provider and other patients who may contract patient-to-patient infections,” wrote Denise M. Korniewicz, PhD, RN, of the University of Miami, and Maher El-Masri, PhD, RN, of the University of Windsor, in Ontario, Canada.

“Thus,” they wrote, “these findings may suggest that healthcare providers are probably driven to wash their hands by their need to protect themselves more than their patients.”

Each year, an estimated 2.5 million patients in the U.S. develop healthcare-associated infections that result in 90,000 deaths and cost the healthcare system an estimated $4.5 to $5.7 billion dollars.

Practices that reduce hand-to-hand or hand-to-skin contamination are considered the most effective way to decrease the risk of healthcare-associated infections, yet previous studies suggest that compliance with hand hygiene guidelines is still poor.

To explore the factors associated with compliance, Korniewicz and El-Masri observed 612 procedures at an academic oncology hospital. Data were recorded for 47 healthcare providers and were collected over a 16-week period from inpatient […more…]

This article was taken from MedPage Today, another wonderful source of great information about healthcare and related subjects.

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