Accreditation Q-Tip: Hand Hygiene

By Sindhu Pillai

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Across the world, hundreds of millions of patients are affected by healthcare-associated infections each year. These healthcare-associated infections can lead to significant morbidity, mortality, and financial losses for health systems. According to World Health Organization (WHO), by implementing infection prevention and control (IPAC) measures, such as appropriate hand hygiene and basic precautions during invasive procedures can reduce healthcare-associated infections by at least 50%. Because of its significance in protecting patients and preventing healthcare-associated infections, hand hygiene is also a Required Organizational Practice by Accreditation Canada. Click here to collect the Q-Tip.

Hand hygiene is one of the most effective ways to prevent healthcare associated infections and limit the spread of microorganisms. According to Public Health Ontario (PHO), an effective hand hygiene program is based on using the right product in the right place at the right time by trained health care providers, combined with a good hand care program. A multifaceted, multidisciplinary strategy is the most effective approach to improving healthcare provider hand hygiene practices.

At Women’s College Hospital, a multifaceted hand hygiene program has been introduced to improve healthcare provider hand hygiene compliance. The program spans from leadership to frontline staff and patients. There are posters on how to perform effective hand hygiene across organization both for staff and patients, along with engaging and educating patients on performing hand hygiene. Patients can also access additional information on hand hygiene and how it is measured at WCH on the WCH website.

The hand hygiene program involves ongoing education and monitoring for hand hygiene compliance through direct observations, where Hand hygiene auditors observe staff hand hygiene practices. This month, a new Hand Hygiene/IPAC Champion program was launched whereby IPAC champions serve as positive role models in promoting hand hygiene compliance among healthcare providers, volunteers, learners, and patients. They also act as liaisons in promoting current evidence-based best practices in Infection Prevention and Control. The corporate hand hygiene compliance goal for 2022 is 92%.

There are four moments when hand hygiene must be performed to limit the spread of disease. These include:

  1. Before contact with patient or their environment
  2. Before any aseptic procedure
  3. After body fluid exposure risk
  4. After contact with patient or their environment

When your hands are visibly soiled, washing hands with soap and water is recommended. When hands are NOT visibly soiled, cleaning hands with alcohol-based hand rub is the preferred method.

Hand hygiene education is provided to staff members, learners, and volunteers through corporate orientation, e-learning, program/departmental in-services, and direct feedback. Additionally, hand hygiene posters are available throughout the hospital and resources are available on the IPAC intranet page.

To learn more, you can visit the Infection Prevention and Control intranet page or contact Infection Prevention and Control Office Extn. 3861 Room 6149

To learn more about Accreditation, visit the Accreditation Intranet Hub.