While Intermountain Healthcare far exceeds the national average for hand hygiene in hospitals, we continue to strive for improvement. In 2009, Intermountain Healthcare has set a goal to raise employee compliance with hand hygiene standards to 90%.

Quality infection control is built on the cornerstone of hand-washing. Without effective hand hygiene, infections can spread — from patient to patient, staff to patient, and patient to staff — putting lives at risk. Currently in the United States, 5% to 10% of hospitalized patients develop a Hospital Acquired Infection, which amounts to 2 million infections and 100,000 deaths each year. Surprisingly, national statistics show that only 50% of direct healthcare providers comply with current hand-washing standards.

In the first few months of 2009, Intermountain has already seen significant improvement in hand-washing compliance. The organization has launched a system-wide communications campaign that includes reminders throughout our hospitals and clinics. For example, when visitors enter Intermountain facilities, they see signs cautioning those who might have a cough to wear a mask and wash their hands frequently.

In addition, each facility is working on increasing hand-hygiene compliance in its community. Some highlights include:

  • McKay-Dee Hospital Center administrators request monthly compliance numbers for each doctor, and they counsel physicians as needed. The chief nursing officer and chief executive officer stop staff during rounds when they observe improper hand hygiene.
  • The Urban South Region provides hand sanitizer at hospital-sponsored events where food is served, and managers set monthly compliance goals. The region has even created a hand-hygiene mascot and theme song to motivate employees.
  • Garfield Memorial Hospital encourages employees to observe hand hygiene. The hospital gives a bottle of liquid soap to employees, and it rewards those who consistently practice proper hand hygiene with cafeteria coupons.

With the recent outbreak of H1N1 Influenza (also known as Swine Flu), recommendations from the Utah Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control remind individuals that hand hygiene is one of the most important ways to stop the spread of flu.

Our hospitals and clinics are always thinking of creative ways to engage employees in the goal to improve hand hygiene. We appreciate their commitment to Intermountain's goals and to providing excellent, safe, clinical care.


Factoid:

Researchers with the American Society for Microbiology found that while 95 percent of men and women say they wash their hands, only 67 percent actually do.

The study was based on a telephone survey of 1,021 adults across the country — along with in-person observations of 7,836 people who used public restrooms in New York, Atlanta, New Orleans, Chicago, and San Francisco.


Intermountain's Handwashing Campaign

Intermountain is spreading the word about hand washing and its importance in preventing the spread of germs to others. Check the humorous posters we've made available on our public website for downloading:

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