Achieving 100% Compliance with Handwashing

Unlike many issues in healthcare, where opinions are diverse and countless “what ifs” must be considered, the necessity of handwashing is an undisputed topic. Across the board, healthcare providers recognize the importance of washing their hands before coming into contact with patients. While recognizing the need is an important first step, compliance is much more difficult.

The Association of periOperative Registered Nurses (AORN) lists handwashing as the most effective and least expensive way to prevent infection in a healthcare setting. Whether or not a healthcare provider washes his or her hands before caring for a patient can be a life or death difference, especially when treating young, elderly, or high-risk patients with compromised immune systems. While this practice requires little effort on behalf of the provider, it has a large impact on the safety and sanitation of patient care.

A recent report from the National Patient Safety Foundation (NPSF) states that it is unacceptable for any hospital to have handwashing rates lower than 100%, and includes proper hand hygiene as one of its “Must Do” practices. “Hospitals or clinicians unable to achieve uniform adherence with ‘must do’ practices should not be in the business of delivering health care,” states Robert Wachter, MD, a board member of the NPSF.

So where does the breakdown happen? While many facilities have developed interventions to encourage hand hygiene, such as adding more sinks or alcohol dispensers, a large number still lack a system or structure to ensure that handwashing actually occurs. Further complicating the situation, many hospitals leave this decision up to the discretion of the employee. With busy, taxing workdays, it is easy to see how proper hand hygiene can slip through the cracks.

To reach 100% compliance, there must be a way to hold caregivers accountable for hand hygiene. World Health Organization encourages leaders to train observers to monitor staff using “My 5 Moments for Hand Hygiene.” Additionally, hospitals may choose to implement electronic monitoring systems, such as video monitoring or real-time location systems. Other methods include having patients observe caregivers and measuring the consumption of hand hygience products.

A more recent strategy to improve compliance is the use of digital hand hygiene auditing systems. CipherHealth’s digital rounding solution, Orchid, features a specific checklist for hand hygiene audits designed to make the process a seamless part of prep. Orchid’s checklists are completely customizable, allowing each facility to design a list with the exact number and type of steps appropriate for its team. The information that is collected with audits is analyzed and generated into reports, providing visibility into compliance rates across the organization. By adding this layer of accountability, our tool helps make handwashing a given, not a decision.

Contact us today to see how our digital rounding tool can be customized to help your organization achieve 100% compliance with handwashing.

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