Addressing hygiene measures in silos – hand and surface – creates confusion and can lead to human error. Instead, patient safety can be improved by following hygiene standards that relate to every aspect of patient contact
Up to 30 per cent of all infections acquired in hospitals and other healthcare facilities could be avoided if employees followed existing recommendations on hygiene.
However, there is a crucial hurdle to overcome to make this happen; the widespread lack of understanding of which hygiene measures to perform and when.
In fact, to prevent nosocomial infections, such as bloodstream or urinary tract infections, hygiene measures need to be implemented consistently.
To improve patient protection there need to be standardised hygiene working practices to help employees treating and nursing patients.
If those standards are followed throughout every stage of patient contact, patient safety can be increased.
Holistic hygiene measures would incorporate all the activities required to minimise a specific infection risk including, for instance: hand hygiene, skin antisepsis, surface disinfection, and the use of sterile dressings. Not only would these improve top of mind awareness but standards and learnings could also be transferred from one segment to the other, heightening hygiene quality standards across the board.
The BODE SCIENCE CENTER, a scientific centre of excellence for hygiene and infection protection, worked with the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf (UKE) to analyse how this innovative holistic approach could close gaps within routine patient care activity .
Rather than looking at hand disinfection in isolation, they focused on the whole process of a specific nursing/medical activity considering every action important for the prevention of patient infections. As part of the study they identified the optimal operating procedure, from a patient infection control point of view, for inserting a peripheral venous catheter (PVC) based on three evidence-based guidelines. Having trained employees on this procedure, they found that compliance increased for almost all steps relevant to patient safety.
Advantages of standardised working processes
The study demonstrated that standard operating procedures helped to provide certainty of which hygiene measures to perform at the patient’s bed and when to perform them. Compliance with patient safety steps was improved. It was found that easy to understand, structured processes give nursing staff and doctors confidence when implementing hygiene measures within clinical activities.
Rather than looking at hand disinfection in isolation, the study considered all individual steps relevant to the optimal procedure and patient protection during a nursing/medical activity.
Following hygiene standards throughout every contact with the patient can improve patient safety. Having trained employees on this procedure, they found that compliance increased for almost all steps relevant to patient safety.
- Implementing standards involves thorough staff training.
- Visual reminders can enhance the compliance.
- Steps need to be clear and easy-to-follow.
For more information, read the complete study here.