Hospital to take hands-on approach to hand hygiene

Since 2014, HRO safety behaviors have taken center stage in Yale New Haven Hospital’s hand hygiene improvement efforts. This year, the Hand Hygiene Performance Improvement Team is implementing on a “hands-on” approach to identifying and eliminating barriers to hand hygiene compliance. 

“Patients depend on their medical team to help them get well; and the first step is making sure healthcare professionals aren’t exposing patients to new infections,” said Richard Martinello, MD, medical director, YNHH Infection Prevention. “Practicing proper hand hygiene is one of the simplest, yet most effective ways to prevent hospital-acquired infections, which can be serious – sometimes deadly – to our patients, and spread to physicians and staff.” 

YNHH’s overall hand hygiene compliance has improved since current surveillance methods began in 2015, with a compliance rate of 86 percent for the first quarter of fiscal year 2019. Ongoing hand hygiene improvement efforts have included physician and staff education, an emphasis on hand hygiene during leadership rounding and anonymous hand hygiene monitors on inpatient units who document how often staff from all disciplines clean their hands.

“We are looking at changing the way we compute the metrics, and setting targets by each service line, in addition to the overall hospital compliance rate,” said Tina Bennett, director, Patient Transport and Community Outreach Programs. “This will allow us to celebrate successes and identify opportunities and areas for improvement.”

One concern hospital-wide is hand hygiene and glove use. The Hand Hygiene Performance Improvement Team reminds staff that gloves are not a substitute for hand hygiene – hands should always be washed before and after glove use. Gloves are required for all patients on contact precautions, and per standard precautions when in contact with non-intact skin or body fluids. Gloves should not be washed or worn for multiple patients. For information on proper glove use and hand hygiene and precautions policies, visit the YNHH Infection Control Manual, on the Infection Prevention Department intranet page.

In recognition of World Hand Hygiene Day, the Hand Hygiene Performance Improvement Team will kick off YNHH’s 2019 campaign to promote proper hand hygiene habits with information tables outside the cafeterias at both campuses, 11 am - 1 pm Wednesday, May 8. In addition, carts will visit support services areas throughout the hospital.