Health care work­ers wash hands more when pa­tients watch­ing

Daily Trust - - HEALTH -

Next time you’re in the hospi­tal, keep an eye out for hy­giene prac­tices: Health care work­ers are more likely to wash their hands if pa­tients are asked to mon­i­tor them, ac­cord­ing to a new study.

It de­tails an 11-month pi­lot project at the Fam­ily Prac­tice Health Cen­ter at Women’s Col­lege Hospi­tal in Toronto. Pa­tients were asked to ob­serve and record the hand hy­giene habits of their health care providers, who were aware that they were be­ing watched.

Dur­ing the project, nearly 97 per­cent of the health care work­ers washed their hands be­fore di­rect con­tact with their pa­tients, ac­cord­ing to the study in the April is­sue of the Amer­i­can Jour­nal of In­fec­tion Con­trol.

The re­searchers also found that 58 per­cent of health care providers said they changed their hand hy­giene prac­tices, 88 per­cent said they were more mo­ti­vated to wash their hands and 33 per­cent said they had more con­ver­sa­tions with pa­tients about in­fec­tion preven­tion and con­trol.

“In­volv­ing pa­tients as the mon­i­tors of their health care providers’ hand hy­giene seems like an ob­vi­ous, sim­ple choice, and yet most hos­pi­tals in Canada don’t use this method -- many opt for the of­ten costly and time-con­sum­ing al­ter­na­tives such as hav­ing their col­leagues mon­i­tor and au­dit,” study co-lead au­thor Jes­sica Ng, man­ager of in­fec­tion preven­tion and con­trol at Women’s Col­lege Hospi­tal, said in a hospi­tal news re­lease.

The pi­lot project -- adapted from an ap­proach used at Johns Hop­kins Hospi­tal in Bal­ti­more -- was so suc­cess­ful that it is be­ing im­ple­mented in other ar­eas of the hospi­tal, which is be­lieved to be the first Cana­dian hospi­tal with this type of pro­gram.

“The pa­tient-as-ob­server ap­proach is a prac­ti­cal, ac­cu­rate and cost-sav­ing al­ter­na­tive to the time- and re­source-in­ten­sive di­rect ob­ser­va­tions by a paid hospi­tal em­ployee,” study se­nior au­thor Dr. Michael Gar­dam, the hospi­tal’s di­rec­tor of in­fec­tion preven­tion and con­trol, said in the news re­lease.

“It’s a promis­ing tool for cham­pi­oning pa­tient safety and qual­ity im­prove­ment, be­cause it sup­ports ed­u­ca­tion, en­gage­ment and em­pow­er­ment of pa­tients to play a more ac­tive role in their own health care,” he added.

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