Tennessee hospital creates culture of safety

July 24, 2014
Hollis Bennett/Getty Images

Anybody trained in medicine knows that washing hands helps stop the spread of germs. But knowing doesn’t always translate into doing. Convenience is a big barrier: If sinks or antiseptic foam and gel dispensers aren’t readily accessible to medical staff, hand washing is easy to overlook in the midst of other responsibilities, according to an article on the Yahoo website.

Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tenn., boosted hand washing, cut infections, and created a culture of safety by orchestrating a number of practical changes, including installing additional hand sanitizer dispensers at the entrance and exit of every patient’s room or bay and within easy reach inside. 

Staffers were instructed to clean their hands before and after every encounter with patients, even if all they planned to do was have a conversation, the article said. Clinicians who complained that their skin had become irritated by excess antiseptic gel were told to cut back to a dime-size portion, and moisturizing lotion dispensers were added throughout the hospital.

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