Health care providers launch campaign to highlight commitment to hand hygiene
(Edmonton, Alberta - May 7, 2012) – Patients, families and staff at Alberta Health Services (AHS) facilities across the province are being mobilized to improve hand hygiene and reduce the rates of health care-associated infections.
Hugh MacLeod, CEO of the Canadian Patient Safety Institute (CPSI), applauds AHS for taking a leadership role in increasing infection control awareness among everyone who works, visits or seeks treatment in AHS health facilities.
AHS initiatives include having an international hand hygiene expert speak to physicians and staff, as well as pilot projects at select sites which will introduce flat keyboards that are easier to disinfect than conventional keyboards, and placing alcohol-based hand sanitizer at patient bedsides.
“We know our rates need to improve and we are working on it,” says Dr. Mark Joffe, Senior Medical Director for AHS Infection Prevention and Control. “We are already seeing an increase in awareness and improvements in our rates as a result of our provincial and local initiatives. The attention and excitement that these initiatives are creating has got staff talking about it, which will lead to improvements.”
Recently, patients at two health facilities in the Edmonton Zone of AHS have been encouraged to ask their health care providers to clean their hands. Since February, health care providers at the Mazankowski Alberta Heart Institute and CK Hui Heart Centre have been wearing buttons that read: “You can ask me to clean my hands.”
“For myself, I feel more comfortable asking nurses to clean their hands when they are wearing the button,” says Mazankowski cardiac patient Twyla Ruthven. “You protect yourself and others by asking one simple question.”
“We have taken a different approach in implementing the button,” adds Meagan Dunn, Clinical Nurse Educator at the CK Hui Heart Institute. “It has really spurred a lot of interest and when other staff see the button, they ask, how can I get one?”
AHS conducted its first provincewide review of hand hygiene last year. This report provides AHS with a baseline to monitor and measure improvement.
MacLeod says effective hand hygiene is the most important thing patients and health care providers can do to protect themselves and others against health care-associated infections, such as clostridium difficile infection (C. difficile).
“Asking healthcare providers to clean their hands can be an uncomfortable request,” says MacLeod. “Staff at the Mazankowski and CK Hui Heart Centre are truly making a difference by putting patients at ease and letting them know that it’s acceptable to ask their nurse or doctor to clean their hands.”
The launch of STOP! Clean Your Hands Day is being celebrated at the Mazankowski and CK Hui Heart Centre to recognize this dedication and leadership to hand hygiene. CPSI is proud to team up with leaders in patient safety — Alberta Health Services, Accreditation Canada and CHICA-Canada — to help launch the third national STOP! Clean Your Hands Day today. More than 900 healthcare sites, from hospitals to long-term care homes, have registered for STOP! Clean Your Hands Day.