In the healthcare field, hand hygiene is a vital practice that helps to greatly reduce the risk of transmitting potentially deadly germs not only to patients, but to staff members as well. Even though this practice is of the utmost importance, studies show that some healthcare providers practice appropriate hand hygiene techniques less than half of the times they should. During a typical 12-hour shift, the average healthcare provider should be disinfecting their hands around 100 times. When compliance levels are at less than 50 percent, it can lead to serious consequences that could negatively impact the healthcare facility’s image as well as their instances of healthcare-associated infections (HAIs).

Hand-washing TeamTo discuss the topic in more detail and to learn ways to motivate healthcare team members to remain compliant with hand hygiene regulations, we reached out to HHS EVS Director Phillip Batchelder, whose team received recognition for their hand-washing compliance at their facility in Longview, Texas.

“Our administration saw a need for improvement in this area and developed a team of “secret shoppers” who investigated both clinical and ancillary teams on their hand hygiene practices,” says Batchelder.

After evaluating the results, the hospital decided to develop a program that brought an element of competitiveness across all hospital departments. Batchelder continued, “Using a cell phone application, certified hand hygiene managers evaluated team members on compliance while making rounds. During routine visits, managers made note of the individuals who followed proper protocols and those who did not, no matter the department. The system then developed a rating system that detailed how departments were doing.”

Based on their initial findings, the hospital looked at scores and met with directors to see how they could motivate their team to reach higher target goals. “When it came down to it, my team wasn’t getting enough audits entered into the system. To improve our scores, I had all five of my managers partake in certification training to better audit our team members and to make sure they were staying in compliance,” explains Batchelder.shutterstock_1101704978

In addition to the hand-hygiene certified EVS managers, Batchelder motivated and reminded his team on a daily basis about the importance of disinfecting their hands. “Our housekeepers are confronted with bacteria every time they enter a patient room, and often have to clean high-risk areas. To protect themselves and anyone else they come in contact with, it is extremely important for them to foam in and foam out every single time they enter a room. Through comprehensive video training, and having hand hygiene discussions every day at our huddles, it kept hand hygiene top of mind and held everyone accountable to meet compliance.”

Batchelder saw dramatic results from the motivation he gave his team. “Within a month we saw vast improvement. Our hand-washing compliance reached 96 percent, and our team has remained in the top tier of all the departments in the hospital. We celebrate and recognize the entire team by treating them to cookies or cupcakes for their dedication to keeping the patients and themselves safe,” says Batchelder.

Hand hygiene continues to be an important practice within every healthcare environment. Now with alcohol-based hand sanitizers being the most effective solution for denaturing proteins, disinfecting hands requires less time and is more accessible than ever before. With this accessibility, following protocol becomes easier, and with motivation, backing, and technology components, hospitals can improve their hand-hygiene scores and keep everyone that enters the facility safe from preventable germ transmissions.