May 05, 2018
3 min read

World Hand Hygiene Day: The role of hand-washing in sepsis prevention

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Today on World Hand Hygiene Day, observed annually on May 5, WHO and the CDC are highlighting the important role of good hand hygiene practices in sepsis prevention.

WHO estimates that sepsis, a life-threatening condition triggered by severe infections, affects more than 30 million patients globally each year. According to the CDC, hand-washing and alcohol-based hand sanitizer use are simple but effective ways to help prevent infections that can lead to sepsis. However, the CDC reported that, on average, health care providers are less than 50% compliant to hand hygiene recommendations.

“Health care-associated infections are one of the most common adverse events in health care delivery and a major public health problem with an impact on morbidity, mortality and quality of life,” Jaouad Mahjour MD, MPH, acting regional director of WHO’s Mediterranean region, said in a statement. “At any one time, up to 7% of patients in high-income countries and 10% in low-income and middle-income countries will acquire at least one health care-associated infection.”

To help raise awareness about the importance of hand hygiene, Infectious Disease News has compiled a list of the top five stories over the past year that demonstrate the benefits of adequate hand hygiene and ways to improve compliance:

Hand Hygiene Day is marked each year on May 5 to raise awareness about the importance of adequate hand-washing and alcohol-based sanitizer use in health care settings.
Source: Shutterstock

Only 15 seconds for alcohol-based hand rubs safe, effective

Researchers found that reducing the recommended application time for hand rubs improved hand hygiene compliance rates with no significant difference in efficacy during a clinical study in a German NICU.

The study included a clinical observation trial in which nurses applied alcohol-based hand rubs (ABHRs) for either 15 or 30 seconds. Researchers said hand antisepsis actions were significantly more frequent in the group with the shortened application time. Read more.

SUNY Downstate staff wears electronic monitors to improve hand hygiene

SUNY Downstate Medical Center announced that it has launched a new initiative to increase physicians’ hand hygiene compliance using an electronic monitoring system.

Health care professionals at SUNY Downstate will wear badges created by BioVigil that contain infrared sensors. The sensors will turn the badge green, yellow or red, depending on hand hygiene compliance. Read more.

Hand hygiene intervention effective in nursing homes

Hand hygiene protocols reduced mortality and antibiotic prescriptions in nursing homes, according to researchers in France.

“Although epidemiological studies show a high prevalence of infections in nursing homes, with major consequences in terms of morbidity, mortality and costs, most of the infection prevention measures that are currently implemented in these settings have simply been adapted from those designed for acute care, without being assessed in long-term care,” Laura Temime, PhD, professor at the Conservatoire National des Arts et Metiers, told Infectious Disease News. “In particular, the effectiveness of hand hygiene to reduce the infectious risk in nursing homes is not well documented, and compliance to hand hygiene recommendations remains very low among nursing home staff.” Read more.

Patient empowerment intervention improves hand hygiene
Adult patients and the parents of hospitalized children supported the use of a patient empowerment tool to encourage hand hygiene in physicians, whereas physicians preferred a verbal reminder, according to findings from a recently published survey.

“Most patients and family members surveyed indicated that they would feel comfortable using the Patient Empowerment Tool to remind physicians and nurses to perform hand hygiene. Only 54.9% of physicians surveyed felt that patients should be involved in reminding providers to perform hand hygiene,” Allison Lastinger, MD, of the section of infectious diseases at the West Virginia University School of Medicine, told Infectious Disease News. “I think these findings highlight the differences between how patients and physicians view patient empowerment. We should continue to address the barriers to hand hygiene identified by health care providers and educate providers on the value of patient empowerment.” Read more.

German hand hygiene campaign nearly doubles hand rub use in hospitals

The use of alcohol-based hand rub has nearly doubled in some German hospitals thanks to a national hand hygiene campaign, study data showed.

“In January 2008, the German national hand hygiene campaign Aktion Saubere Hände was launched as part of a strategy of multiple interventions based on the framework of the World Health Organization’s Clean Care is Safer Care program to improve hand hygiene adherence in health care settings,” researchers wrote. “These results highlight the strength of a long-term surveillance program accompanying multimodal intervention (and follow-up), such as the ASH national hand-hygiene campaign.” Read more.