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Biohazard Regulations North Carolina

Blog

Sunday, April 19 2015
North Carolina Biohazard Providers Hand Hygiene

In the United States, hospital patients get an estimated 722,000 infections each year. That’s about 1 infection for every 25 patients. Infections that patients get in the hospital can be life-threatening and hard to treat. Hand hygiene is one of the most important ways to prevent the spread of infections.

Healthcare providers should practice hand hygiene at key points in time to disrupt the transmission of microorganisms to patients including: before patient contact; after contact with blood, body fluids, or contaminated surfaces (even if gloves are worn); before invasive procedures; and after removing gloves (wearing gloves is not enough to prevent the transmission of pathogens in healthcare settings). For a full list of hand hygiene indications, please see the recommendations here.

Hand-washing by health care workers — or their failure to do so — has received repeated attention by the media. But the hand-washing compliance rate remains frustratingly low — as little as 30 percent of the time that health care workers interact with patients. That’s right; less than a third of the time they interact with patients, doctors and nurses fail to wash their hands. Hand-washing is the first line of defense against health care acquired infections. Hand-washing can save lives and prevent life-long disabilities due to infections.

A recent article in The New York Times details the lengths to which some hospitals are willing to go to ensure their employees are performing this simple yet life-saving task. As absurd as it sounds, one hospital monitors its employees via video. Workers in India then monitor the videos and report hand-washing compliance statistics back to the hospital. That’s a mind-boggling use of outsourced labor, but the real story is that hand-washing compliance is still unacceptably low, and this has to change.

Hospitals use different methods to try to raise hand-washing compliance of health care workers and doctors, who have the lowest compliance levels. The Greater New York Hospital Association, for example, trains some of its employees to be hand-washing “coaches,” who give out red cards or gold stars to other employees based on their hand-hygiene compliance. It sort of sounds like the rewards we remember from grade school, but if it works to increase hand-hygiene compliance it’s a win for patients.

Another incentive for hospitals to figure out ways to get workers to wash their hands comes in the form of payment incentives: The largest payer of health care, Medicare, no longer reimburses hospitals for treatment associated with certain infections acquired in a hospital. In the near future, the program will further cut payments to hospitals with the worst infection rates. We think that this is a good thing and hope to see even more action by hospitals to prevent infections on every floor in every ward.

It’s encouraging to see hospitals trying new things to improve hand-washing compliance, but it’s disappointing that this is still a problem and that patients continue to pay the price when doctors and health care workers fail to clean their hands.

 

Patients and their loved ones can play a role in helping to prevent infections by practicing hand hygiene themselves as well as asking or reminding their healthcare providers to perform hand hygiene.

 

Posted by: jamyr68@comcast.net Mike AT 03:46 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email

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