An Excellent Practice
Monday, August 11, 2014
Simple hand washing has become big business in hospitals and medical centers across the country. Doctors and patients alike have known for a long time that hand washing is the fastest, easiest way to avoid infection. When hospital staff travel from one infected person to the next, or even from one area of a hospital to another, they become an ideal disease carrier—unless they wash their hands between each task.
Even though it’s almost impossible to find anyone to dispute the merits of hand washing in medical settings (or any setting), it’s still been difficult for hospital administration to improve staff hand washing statistics. As described in this Yahoo! News article, even when patients insist that hospital staff entering their room wash their hands, some make excuses or simply refuse.
But how important is hand washing in medical settings? Can you let your doctor, nurse or aide slide and avoid the inconvenience of washing their hands again - possibly for the 30th or even 300th time that day?
• 1 in 25 hospital patients will contract at least one infection during a hospital visit.
• Noted in this article from Frontline, drug-resistant bacteria spreads easily in hospitals on the unwashed hands of staff and is a nightmare to combat.
• Infections picked up in medical settings lead to 100,000 deaths each year in the United States.
• While it may seem that medical staff are regularly washing their hands, when studied, most institutions find that hands may be washed as little as 25% - 30% of the time.
• Infections contracted in hospital settings cost the American healthcare system between $30 and $40 billion annually.
Clearly improving hand-washing rates in any medical setting benefits all parties. The reasons for why implementing change has been so difficult aren’t clear-cut, but it seems that technology may be one answer to getting past the excuses and encouraging medical staff to stop at the sink.
Small changes can lead to huge improvements. A hand washing campaign at Vanderbilt University Medical Center implemented in 2009 has since lead to a jump from 58% to 97% in hand washing compliance and a drop in infections by 80%.
Tracking devices and sensors from companies like Biovigil, GOJO, and HyGreen have helped improve hand washing rates in a number of medical centers; in one, adding technology to protocol has caused infection rates to drop as much as 66%.
But even tracking and monitoring staff won’t help the situation if soaps and sanitizers aren’t immediately accessible or conveniently located. Ensuring patient safety through adequate hygiene supplies is an easy first step in the process of improving statistics.
Additionally, the CDC offers hand washing programs, literature and media to help medical providers get a handle on improving their hand washing rates. Some of these supplies are intended to change the behavior of medical staff and others are aimed at empowering patients to request that doctors and staff wash their hands.
Starting with the right products for your medical center is a great first step. Mailender has everything you need to keep the hands of doctors, nurses and staff clean and to keep infection at bay. Contact us today to discuss the solutions we offer.
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