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Hand Hygiene: Fundamentals to Prevent HAIs
Infection Prevention

Hand Hygiene: Fundamentals to Prevent HAIs

​​​​​​​Proper hand hygiene by healthcare workers is considered to be one of the most important practices for preventing healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) (CDC "Guideline for Hand Hygiene"). HAIs can happen anywhere healthcare is delivered including hospitals; outpatient settings such as doctor's offices, ambulatory surgical centers, and dialysis facilities; and long-term care facilities such as nursing homes and rehabilitation centers. They may be caused by any infectious agent, although most are caused by bacteria, viruses, or fungi (ODPHP).

Healthcare workers have long known that clean hands reduce the risk of infection, and a variety of organizations have issued recommendations on how and when to perform hand hygiene. Despite the focus on hand hygiene as an important safety practice, compliance is often low. On average, healthcare providers clean their hands less than half the times they should (CDC "Clean Hands Count").

Action Recommendations

  • Establish a multidisciplinary hand hygiene team to ensure administrative support and promote hand hygiene compliance, including implementing multimodal strategies for behavior change.
  • Assess the organization's hand hygiene program to ensure use of multimodal strategies to achieve and maintain high rates of hand hygiene compliance.
  • Measure hand hygiene compliance to determine organizational and departmental baselines.
  • Determine the reasons for noncompliance and develop remedial measures to address them.
  • Provide ongoing training for healthcare workers on when, and how, to cleanse hands.
  • Educate patients, residents, and visitors on the need for hand hygiene for themselves and for healthcare workers.
  • Provide evaluation and feedback to healthcare workers on hand hygiene performance on a regular basis and in multiple formats.

Learn how ECRI can help you enhance your current infection prevention and control capabilities.