Hand Washing Not a Priority for Docs

According to the Centers for Disease Control, an estimated 2 million patients get a hospital-related infection every year and 90,000 die from their infection. With only only 40 percent of doctors reportedly washing their hands after patient contact, it is evident that hand hygiene needs to be more of a priority in hospitals.

In December 2008, the Joint Commission Center for Transforming Healthcare began work on its first improvement project: addressing failures in hand hygiene. in the latest edition of the Medical Journal of Australia states that only 60 percent of doctors are washing their hands after patient contact. This does not seem to be an issue just in one country, but worldwide. In the United States, the number is only slightly higher, with about 50% of doctors washing their hands after examining a patient.

According to the World Health Organization, poor hand hygiene in hospitals and other health care settings is a major contributor to patients contracting infections while in the hospital. In the United States alone, the annual cost of taking care of these patients is over $6.5 billion dollars and contributes to over 90,000 deaths each year.

Hand hygiene compliance takes a great deal of sustained work and resources at all levels in the medical field. By January 2010, the Joint Commission Center for Transforming Healthcare will have the data to demonstrate whether the solutions can be sustained to achieve a 90+ percent compliance rate.

The commission has targeted several areas that are major causes of doctors not cleaning their hands:

*Ineffective placement of dispensers or sinks
*Hand hygiene compliance data are not collected or reported accurately or frequently
*Lack of accountability and just-in-time coaching
*Safety culture does not stress hand hygiene at all levels
*Ineffective or insufficient education
*Hands full
*Wearing gloves interferes with process
*Perception that hand hygiene is not needed if wearing gloves
*Health care workers forget

Hand hygiene is critically important to safe, high quality patient care. Unfortunately, many infections are transmitted by doctors and other health care personnel. Hopefully a comprehensive system will be established to to make hand washing a priority for medical professionals around the world. With the rate of hospital-related infections rising, hand washing needs to be a priority.

Cheryl Phillips
Exclusive to HULIQ.com

sources: ABC Australia, World Health Organization, JCCTH