It is 8am and Brett Walters, surgical ward nurse unit manager, is washing hands in preparation for the day. However, maintaining good hand hygiene is important throughout every day; cleaning your hands once is not enough.
Washing your hands with soap and water or applying alcohol hand foam helps prevent the spread of infections.
Recently, GV Health installed new hand sanitising zones throughout the organisation to make the alcohol foam dispensers easily accessible for staff, patients and visitors. These areas are well sign posted to remind of the importance of applying the foam.
Patients are encouraged to ask staff whether they washed their hands before commencing patient care. Large posters of senior hospital staff are posted in the acute wards stating, “It is OK to ask me if I have washed my hands.”
Hand hygiene is vital and is monitored and reported to the Department of Health (DoH). The DoH target for hand hygiene is 70%.
2013/14 Hand Hygiene Compliance
October 2013 72.4%
March 2014 79.2%
June 2014 66.1%
An action plan has been developed to address the organisation’s below-standard hand hygiene compliance rate in June 2014. Actions to address this include in service training, on-line education and staff wearing stickers, which say, “Ask me if I washed my hands”.
In 2013, clinical staff knowledge of aseptic technique was assessed. Aseptic technique prevents bacteria entering open wounds during procedures, such as wound dressings.
It was acknowledged that, while staff have prior learning, we still need to ensure consistency of practice. Thus, clinical staff were required to complete an on online learning package. The package covered correct infection prevention measures to reduce the risk of healthcare associated infection, including:
- Checking the environment for contaminants
- Performing hand hygiene
- Using personal protective equipment such as gloves, gowns and masks
- When possible, not touching the wound site