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Does Your Practice Need a Handwashing Refresher?

Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for outpatient healthcare facilities to lack proper hand hygiene. In light of this, your practice may want to consider developing engaging ways to improve staff compliance with hygiene recommendations.

With all of the warnings and reminders about the importance of handwashing, you may be surprised to hear that the lack of proper hand hygiene is still a prominent issue in outpatient healthcare settings.

According to a Medical News Today article, “Despite having policies in place to prevent infections, staff at outpatient care facilities fail to follow recommendations for hand hygiene 37 percent of the time.”

Hand hygiene recommendations

The CDC recommends that outpatient staff members engage in hand hygiene:

  • Before touching a patient, even if gloves will be worn.
  • Before exiting the patient’s care area after touching the patient or the patient’s immediate environment.
  • After contact with blood, wound dressings, body fluids or excretions.
  • Prior to performing an aseptic task (e.g. placing an IV, preparing an injection).
  • If hands will be moving from a contaminated-body site to a clean-body site during patient care.
  • After glove removal.

What can be done to improve compliance with hand hygiene recommendations?

For starters, you can develop hygiene policies, have staff trainings and make sure that supplies are easily accessible and available in every room. However, getting staff members to actually wash their hands consistently and correctly takes behavior modification.

By making the hand hygiene process engaging and fun, you can make behavior modification an easier process for staff members.

Many hospitals have developed engaging ways to promote hand hygiene and most of their techniques can be adapted for outpatient settings. One example of this is taking a measure as simple as reminding staff members to “sanitize in” and “sanitize out”.

Another example, found in an Improvement Story from the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, illustrates a hospital team using six sigma practices to improve handwashing. The process included developing a theme around the CHAMPS (Clean Hands are Making Patients Safer) moto. Their methods involved games and prizes to get staff members excited about the program.

Additionally, the CDC has developed a Clean Hands Count Campaign. This campaign has useful tools to help providers improve the overall hygiene at their practice. To get your staff excited about handwashing, you should consider checking out the campaign and using their examples to springboard your own hygiene practices. 

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