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September 2018
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Clean hands are killing the superbugs

Improved hand hygiene amongst hospital staff is almost certain to be the major factor in the dramatic fall in healthcare associated infections, new research has found.

The DaRo Group, which manufactures hand hygiene inspection cabinets used by NHS organisations for staff training purposes, carried out in-depth research over three months to assess the impact of improved hand hygiene practices in hospital settings.

The research included gathering important information and statistics from key agencies such as the National Patient Safety Agency (NPSA), the Health Protection Agency (HPA) and the World Health Organisation (WHO). It also involved engaging directly with a number of leading infection control experts.

Annette Jeanes, Consultant Nurse and Director of Infection Prevention and Control at University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: -In terms of reducing infections such as MRSA and C.diff improved hand hygiene has been the key. Microbiologists and infection control experts have known the importance of hand hygiene for many, many years. However, the real difficulty was changing the hearts and minds of people and getting them to take the issue seriously.

-In recent years patients, politicians and the press have become involved, which has helped to raise awareness of the issue. However, the fact levels of infections are now statistically measured and people are being held responsible for performance is the main reason for improved behaviour towards hand hygiene in hospitals and this had lead to a major reduction in infection rates.

Dr Tony Elston, Consultant Microbiologist and Director of Infection Prevention and Control at Colchester Hospital University NHS Foundation Trust said: -I would certainly agree that improved hand hygiene amongst hospital staff has been the principle reason for the reduction in MRSA rates and, along with a other measures, has played a vital role in helping to reduce a number of other infections such as C.diff.

-In recent years HCAIs have been falling at a significant rate and it is no coincidence the reduction has happen after stringent hand hygiene improvements were introduced. Hand hygiene for staff is extremely important. Our clinical staff now undergo vigorous hand hygiene training, which includes testing their hand washing competence under an ultra violet ‘glow box’ which highlights any bacteria which is left after the hand washing process.

HPA figures show healthcare associated infections, such as MRSA and Colstridium Difficile have fallen dramatically since the NPSA launched the Clean Your Hands Campaign in 2004 with the aim of improving hand hygiene amongst healthcare staff.

Between April 2004 and March 2010 MRSA rates in hospitals across England fell from 7,233 to 1,898. Similarly, cases Clostridium Difficile (C.diff) in hospitals in England have fallen from 55, 498 in to 25,604 in recent years.

Damon Goodyear, Managing Director of the DaRo Group, based in Sudbury, Suffolk, said: -We wanted this research to be a real fact finding mission. A lot of resources nationally have gone into raising the importance of hand hygiene to stop the spread of infection. However, what we haven’t seen is any report which shows how effective the improvements have been and how much of a role improved hand hygiene has played in terms of helping to reduce HCAIs.

-Our research, backed by the opinions of leading experts, clearly show improved hand hygiene amongst hospital staff is the major reason for the fall of HCAIs in hospital settings. We feel it is only right to make our findings public to ensure the importance of hand hygiene retains a high profile.

Health experts across the UK, Europe and America now agree that improved hand hygiene has played a major role in reducing HCAIs and as a result in May 2010 the WHO launched the ‘Save lives, clean your hands campaign’ inviting hospital workers and healthcare professionals to actively promote hand hygiene to reduce infections. To date 11,500 healthcare facilities representing 6.5 million healthcare professionals have registered their commitment to the campaign.

Washing hands for 20 to 30 seconds according to NHS and WHO guidelines is known to significantly reduce risk of cross contamination, therefore reducing risk to patients becoming exposed to infections. Healthcare professionals should clean their hands before touching a patient, before a medical procedure, after being exposed to a patient’s body or body fluids, after touching a patient and after touching a patient’s surroundings.

-Although improved hand hygiene is helping to reduce HCAIs this is no time for complacency and there is still much more work to be done. Micro-organisms and viruses are becoming much more sophisticated and resistant so we have to keep ahead of the game. Although there is almost a 100% compliance with the national hand hygiene requirements in some organisations, many individuals still do not clean their hands properly and this is something which needs to improve, added Annette Jeanes.

For more information of the hand hygiene inspections cabinets go to

www.handinspection.co.uk

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