Our current work on electronic handwash monitoring is accentuating the path of caregiver learning from awareness on to forming new unconscious behaviors. Too often, training is seen as the singular factor in changing handwash behaviors. We train, stop and expect results. There are 7 steps and we stop after step 2 or 3.
Knowledge doesn’t change behaviors. Conviction and repeated practice are the key missing links.
The often mind numbing rush of caregivers in hospitals and long-term care has eclipsed common sense when using hand sanitizers. Caregivers have adapted to the pressures to use so often by using too little too fast.
Advances in UV technology are paving the path to everyday use in acute care facilities. It is being integrated with healthcare’s more traditional surface cleaning tools. Trained users remove from a patient room those fragile items that might sustain physical damage. Visible surface soils are cleaned with spray cleaners and wipes. Remaining furnishings and equipment are positioned to minimize “shadows”, those surfaces escaping the direct light-lines. The “robot” is then released for a fast and effective germ deactivation on both hard and soft surfaces.
First to Earn Handwashing For Life's 5 Star Hand Hygiene Award
Chef Peter Fulgenzi assessed his operation’s risk for hospital acquired infections as step one of his study. He then set safe levels on both handwashing quality and frequency. His 15 handsink stations were optimized and he completed rigorous staff training along with a tightening of hiring policies. One gap persisted in his HandsOn process control system - compliance monitoring remained compromised by observation only.
How Hand Hygiene Monitoring Gets You in the Game
Well implemented technology-assisted monitoring of hand hygiene behaviors is a potential game changer in patient and resident safety but it does share one major weakness with its historic standard, secret shopper protocols. Neither is a stand-alone fix. They merely provide an assessment of current behaviors and evidence of the current patient-care culture.
Beckers Hospital Review recently published two articles that drove powerful messages with a common theme. Imbedded in the context of “The Four Characteristics of a Strong Safety Culture”1 and “How a No-Nonsense Hospital CEO Reached the Target of Zero Infections”2, was a singular message. To create a strong patient safety culture to reduce Nosocomial Infections, leadership must ensure certain characteristics exist in their organization.
Most people would respond saying “That depends on what those numbers correlate to”. Let’s put these numbers into perspective.
A decade ago direct observation of Health Care Workers (HCW’s) by their peers became the “Gold Standard” in the health care community to benchmark hand hygiene compliance. Although the spread of Nosocomial Infections or commonly called Health-Care Associated Infections (HAI’s) is a complex problem, it is widely accepted that up to 50% of HAI’s are transmitted through sub-standard hand hygiene compliance by HCW’s.
The question arises, “What are the drawbacks to this age-old industry standard?
As children we were taught to shout the phrase “Stranger, Danger!” to alert those around us of unfamiliar people in our surroundings. As a means of infection control, perhaps we should yell “Stranger, Danger” when visitors enter our healthcare facilities.