Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Hand Hygiene from the Patient's Perspective

Can the participation of patients in a hand hygiene program increase hand washing?  if so, what motivates patients to do so? 

Here is an article on hand hygiene from the patient's perspective. The study was performed over a  2-week period utilizing an anonymous, voluntary cross-sectional survey of hospitalized patients and their family members.


Of the 859 respondents, 89% considered hand hygiene important, and 75% would take hand hygiene practices into consideration when they choose a hospital. Most respondents (78.4%) would like more information on hand hygiene, particularly persons who have had experience with health care–associated infection (odds ratio, 2.48; 95% confidence interval, 1.57-3.89; P < .001). Respondents would be more willing to ask a doctor or nurse to wash his or her hands if they knew that the doctor or nurse would appreciate the reminder (doctor: from 48.9% to 74.6% [P < .001]; nurse: from 50.8% to 76.3% [P < .001]).


It seems obvious that having had a prior hospital acquired infection would motivate a patient to remind the doctors to wash their hands. How about the rest of the patients? How could they be mobilized as agents of hand hygiene? Despite understanding the importance of hand hygiene, patients balk at reminding doctors to wash their hands. This will be an ongoing challenge.

In the end, there is no single, best way to improve and sustain hand hygiene, as I have previously blogged. 

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