This week, the latest AHS performance report was released to the public which included hand hygiene compliance rates. AHS takes clean hands seriously. It is the single most important thing we can do to prevent the spread of infection, and it is why we have spent the last several years investing time and money into improving our hand hygiene rates.
This newly released data shows hand hygiene rates for AHS staff continue to improve and now sits at 78.5 per cent – the highest level achieved in the organization to date. This represents a 58 per cent improvement in hand hygiene compliance since AHS began doing province-wide hand hygiene reviews in 2011.
Our patients expect that all of our frontline staff and physicians have clean hands, all the time, and rightly so. Nobody should become ill while in our care because a staff member failed to clean their hands properly.
We are proud of our success but we also know we still have a long way to go. Our ultimate goal is 100 per cent clean hands with every patient, every time. Proper and consistent hand hygiene is being ingrained into all aspects of how we provide care and that means better quality and safety for our patients.
In AHS, we train, monitor and report hand hygiene performance according to recommendations from the Canadian Patient Safety Institute. This is based on the four moments of hand hygiene that define those opportunities in routine patient care when hands should be cleaned. For example: before entering a room for patient contact and then upon exiting the room.
It sounds so simple – just wash your hands before and after any interaction with patient. The reality is, health care is a fast paced environment, staff are often dealing with crisis situations and taking on multiple tasks at once. As an organization, it is our job to work together and continually remind each other of the importance of this one simple task.
Hand hygiene reviews are conducted by highly trained reviewers. Last year, AHS introduced a new system for gathering information that allows more timely feedback to physicians and staff. This includes zone-based hand hygiene project managers and reviewers to collect and report hand hygiene data quarterly.
Reviewers use iPads as they observe staff and monitor their hand hygiene practices. The review staff stand quietly with their iPads, neither hiding nor announcing their presence.
We have put a lot of effort into making sure we have the tools we need to accurately monitor our hand hygiene. This includes not just new technology but also the staff we need to make it happen on an ongoing basis.
Along with regular local reviews, province-wide hand hygiene reviews have been done annually since 2011. This year, AHS changed to reporting hand hygiene quarterly, rather than annually. This will help the organization be more proactive and provide timely feedback for improvements. From April-June 2015, 98,267 hand hygiene observations were made across the province.
We are confident with the steps we have taken and will continue to raise awareness and support all our health care providers in providing the very safest care possible.