Can design and operations aid better hand hygiene in healthcare facilities?

Key among HAI preventative measures is the seemingly simple act of healthcare practitioners washing their hands, and some of the cited obstacles to the task may have design or operations solutions.

By Healthcare Facilities Today
April 8, 2013

With healthcare-acquired infection (HAI) rates an ever-present concern for healthcare providers, there are countless reports on ways to prevent the spread of the bacteria and viruses that can cause these deadly illnesses. 

Key among preventative measures is the seemingly simple act of practitioners washing their hands. So why is there disconnect between what we know to be true about the benefits of good hand hygiene and the level of its practice in healthcare facilities? 

The reasons for poor hand hygiene in healthcare facilities are examined in a recent Becker’s Healthcare article, “Why is hand hygiene still a problem in healthcare? 4 common culprits.” 

Of the four culprits listed in the article, two can potentially be resolved with a combined effort between the clinical staff and facilities design and operations teams.  

One reason cited for low adherence to hand washing protocols is that soap dispensers are not always stocked, or that sinks and dispensers are not located in convenient locations. The article suggests re-evaluating the process for stocking soap dispensers.

The other reason practitioners cite for low compliance with hand hygiene standards is a lack of time. The article suggests that a healthcare facility could implement Lean strategies and processes throughout the organization to increase efficiency overall, thus freeing time for hand washing.  

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