Hygiene is two thirds of health. (Proverb)
Hand disinfection can save lives
Healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) are infections acquired by patients during their stay in medical facilities like hospitals or nursing homes. It is estimated that in Germany alone, over 600,000 people experience a healthcare-associated infection every year. Around 20,000 of these infections end fatally .
Not all healthcare-associated infections are preventable, but circa one third of them are considered avoidable . One prevention method is simple: regular and thorough hand disinfection.
Studies have shown that some 90% of all healthcare-associated infections are transmitted via the hands. The importance of hand disinfection in fighting healthcare-associated infections is well known among medical and nursing staff. Nevertheless, studies show that required hand disinfection is only performed 50% of the time on average .
What is compliance?
According to the Robert Koch Institute, "compliance" means the "extent to which a recommendation is followed" .
The health sector includes several such hygiene recommendations, such as regular and thorough hand disinfection. Compliance in this context means disinfecting the hands according to official recommendations.
Gaps and obstacles
Why is compliance with hand disinfection often insufficient – despite its high importance?
Various obstacles to compliance with hand hygiene indications have been identified . These range from poor tolerability to product unavailability, or even missing awareness about when to disinfect the hands during complex care activities.
Recognising these problems is the first step to more compliance. The next step is discussing possible solutions. Here, we provide 6 suggestions that can lastingly improve compliance with hand disinfection.
Six tips to improve hand disinfection compliance
1. Skin compatibility
3. Training and education
4. Compare costs
According to calculations by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), healthcare-associated infections cost the European healthcare system around 7 billion euros every year .
Considering the costs for the healthcare system related to healthcare-associated infections, this clearly justifies the costs for disinfection products, infrastructure and staff training.
5. Role models
6. Adequate human resources
Unite for safety
Singly, any of these tips would help improve compliance. An even better strategy, however, would be to address several problems simultaneously. This would allow tackling insufficient compliance from a number of angles at once and achieving lasting aims.
Together we can save lives. Let's work together at all levels toward a common goal: Better compliance and more safety in healthcare facilities!
: Zacher et al. Application of a new methodology and R package reveals a high burden of healthcare-associated infections (HAI) in Germany compared to the average in the European Union/European Economic Area, 2011 to 2012. Euro Surveill. 2019; 24(46): pii=1900135.
: BVMed / Press release
https://www.bvmed.de/de/bvmed/presse/pressemeldungen/bvmed-hygieneforum-2012-mit-konsequenten-hygienemassnahmen-sind-rund-30-prozent-aller-krankenhausinfektionen-vermeidbar (retrieved on: 04.03.2022)
: Händehygiene in Einrichtungen des Gesundheitswesens. Empfehlung der Kommission für Krankenhaushygiene und Infektionsprävention (KRINKO) beim Robert Koch-Institut (RKI). Bundesgesundheitsbl. 2016, 59:1189–1220.
: RKI / Compliance in the implementation of hygiene guidelines
https://www.rki.de/DE/Content/Infekt/Krankenhaushygiene/Praevention_nosokomial/Compliance_pdf.pdf?__blob=publicationFile (retrieved on: 04.03.2022)
: European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) (2008) Healthcare-associated infections. In: European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) (Hrsg) Annual epidemiological report on communicable diseases in Europe 2008. European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), Stockholm, S 16–38