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1 in 5 US Hospitals Don't Have Adequate Hand Hygiene

Update Date: Feb 27, 2014 05:34 PM EST

One in five U.S. hospitals don't adequately prevent health care- associated infections, a new study on hand sanitizers suggests.

Researchers found that 20 percent of all U.S. health facilities don't make alcohol-based hand sanitizer available at every point of care. Researchers at Columbia University School of Nursing and the World Health Organization said that this is very important because these hospitals are missing an important opportunity to prevent infections.

The latest study also revealed that only half of the hospitals ambulatory care, and long-term care facilities studied had set aside funds in their budgets for hand hygiene training.

The latest study involved a sample of 168 facilities in 42 states and Puerto Rico. The findings revealed that 77.5 percent of facilities reported that alcohol-based sanitizer was continuously available at every point of care. The study also reveals that about one in ten facilities reported that senior leaders such as the chief executive officer, medical director, and director of nursing didn't make a clear commitment to support hand hygiene improvement.

"When hospitals don't focus heavily on hand hygiene, that puts patients at unnecessary risk for preventable health care-associated infections," says Conway. "The tone for compliance with infection control guidelines is set at the highest levels of management, and our study also found that executives aren't always doing all that they can to send a clear message that preventing infections is a priority."

"The survey also shows that facilities participating in the WHO global hand hygiene campaign achieved a higher level of progress," added co-author Prof. Didier Pittet, MD, MS, Director, Infection Control Program and WHO Collaborating Center on Patient Safety, University of Geneva Hospitals and Faculty of Medicine, Geneva, Switzerland. "While hand hygiene compliance is the responsibility of every health care worker, U.S. health care facilities would certainly benefit from coordinated national and sub-national efforts aimed at hand hygiene improvement. They would also gather innovative ideas and trans-cultural approaches by participating in global efforts such as the WHO campaign."

The findings are published in the American Journal of Infection Control

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