Hand Hygiene Adherence Monitoring Results

How Often Are Healthcare Workers Cleaning Their Hands?

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What can I learn from this information?

This information is meant to raise awareness and educate Nova Scotians about the importance of hand hygiene in preventing the spread of infections in hospitals. Information on how often healthcare workers clean their hands is one of many measures we can look at to see how well a hospital is performing. The rates are not meant for hospitals to compare themselves against each other, or for the public to use to decide where they should get health care.

How do healthcare workers clean their hands?

Healthcare workers clean their hands by using soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub.

How do we measure how often healthcare workers clean their hands?

Trained hospital staff, called hand hygiene auditors, watch healthcare workers as they go into and then leave a patient room. The hand hygiene auditors complete a checklist, of whether the healthcare worker cleaned his or her hands at the right times. The checklist includes the "four moments" when healthcare workers must clean their hands:

Four Moments of Hand Hygiene
  • Before the initial patient/patient environment contact (Moment 1)
  • Before an "aseptic" procedure, for example checking a wound or changing a dressing (Moment 2)
  • After a "body fluid exposure risk", for example hand contact with blood or urine (Moment 3)
  • After patient/patient environment contact (Moment 4)

Moments 2 and 3 can be more difficult to observe and are therefore not required for public reporting.

How often should healthcare workers clean their hands?

Studies tell us that healthcare workers do not clean their hands often enough, on average only 40% of the time. Canadian Patient Safety Institute has set a target of 80% for how often healthcare workers should clean their hands. Hospitals in Nova Scotia may choose their own targets, with the goal to see ongoing improvement over time.

Why is this important to measure?

Hand hygiene is the most important way to prevent patients from getting infections while they are in the hospital. Healthcare workers move from patient to patient and from room to room as they provide care. This movement provides a chance to spread germs that can cause infections. Sharing how often healthcare workers clean their hands is one way to help increase how often hands are cleaned and help educate everyone that clean hands prevent infections.

What can I do to help?
  • Clean your hands often. Ask for assistance if needed.
  • Remind all healthcare workers who come into your room to clean their hands.
  • Family and visitors should clean their hands frequently during their visit.

South Shore Health

October to December 2013

Before initial patient/patient
environment contact:

71.0 %

After patient/patient
environment contact:

84.3 %

South West Health

October to December 2013

Before initial patient/patient
environment contact:

71.1 %

After patient/patient
environment contact:

84.2 %

Annapolis Valley Health

October to December 2013

Before initial patient/patient
environment contact:

62.1 %

After patient/patient
environment contact:

86.3 %

Colchester East Hants Health

October to December 2013

Before initial patient/patient
environment contact:

66.7 %

After patient/patient
environment contact:

78.3 %

Cumberland Health

October to December 2013

Before initial patient/patient
environment contact:

56.4 %

After patient/patient
environment contact:

84.2 %

Pictou County Health

October to December 2013

Before initial patient/patient
environment contact:

46.5 %

After patient/patient
environment contact:

53.4 %

Guysborough Antigonish Strait Health

October to December 2013

Before initial patient/patient
environment contact:

91.2 %

After patient/patient
environment contact:

94.8 %

Cape Breton District Health

October to December 2013

Before initial patient/patient
environment contact:

75.7 %

After patient/patient
environment contact:

86.1 %

Capital Health

October to December 2013

Before initial patient/patient
environment contact:

62.9 %

After patient/patient
environment contact:

82.7 %

IWK Health Centre

October to December 2013

Before initial patient/patient
environment contact:

65.5 %

After patient/patient
environment contact:

74.0 %

Provincial Results

October to December 2013

Before initial patient/patient
environment contact:

70.0 %

After patient/patient
environment contact:

83.4 %