By encouraging staff to wash hands, hospital patients can have an impact on infections. | Home Care Assistance By encouraging staff to wash hands, hospital patients can have an impact on infections. | Home Care Assistance
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By encouraging staff to wash hands, hospital patients can have an impact on infections.

-Dr. Kathy Johnson, PhD, CMC

New research indicates that a video by The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) can be an effective tool for encouraging patients to remind healthcare staff to wash their hands. The new hand hygiene video helps patients to remind hospital caregivers to clean their hands. This is a strategy that is critical in the fight to prevent healthcare-associated infections (HAIs). Nearly 100,000 hospitalized people are killed by these infections each year. The effectiveness of a CDC video called Hand Hygiene Saves Lives was tested by the research. In this video patients, family and visitors are encouraged to play a role in their own care by helping healthcare professionals remember to clean their hands before and after touching patients.

It was found that after the video was shown to patients in 17 CHP facilities, patients were twice as likely to report reminding nurses to wash their hands, and doctors were twice as likely to report being asked by patients to wash their hands. Dr. John Jernigan of the CDC states that research shows that hand hygiene adherence among medical professionals is less than optimal, despite long-standing evidence showing that it helps prevent healthcare-associated infections (HAIs). Such a tool can be used by hospitals to empower their patients to participate in their own care and diminish their risk of getting affected by an infection by reminding care givers to perform hand hygiene.

Each year there are approximately 1.7 million HAIs and close to100, 000 associated deaths among hospitalized patients. Also the cost of infections on the healthcare system is between $35-45 billion annually. The Catholic Healthcare Partners (CHP) and the Premier healthcare alliance joined CDC in the presentation of the video. For Carolyn Wieging RN, BSN, CIC, Infection Prevention and Control Manager, St. Rita’s Medical Center, preventing HAIs is a high priority goal at all CHP hospitals. Patients can be partners to assure safe and high-quality care. This video makes it clear that it is perfectly acceptable to ask care givers to wash their hands to decrease their risk of infection.

The Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology helped to create Hand Hygiene Saves Lives. The video is indeed having a positive impact on patient empowerment. The number one way to prevent the spread of infection is hand hygiene and such measures lead to increased hand hygiene compliance and improved patient outcomes. Majority of patients reported that the video increased their knowledge about hand hygiene, that it is a useful tool to educate patients about hand hygiene and recommended that the video be shown to other patients.

Gina Pugliese, RN, MS and vice president of the Premier Safety Institute, believes that doctors and nurses work every day to deliver the best patient outcomes and care givers recognize the importance of hand washing as a strategy for preventing infections in patients and themselves as confirmed by the data.

The majority of doctors and nurses it was found were comfortable being asked by a patient or family member to wash their hands, thus recognizing the need for a reminder. As part of our multi-pronged approach to improve hand washing, patient empowerment is being viewed as one more tool that is employed which has been established by the research.

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