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Hand Hygiene campaign launched at Mater Adult Hospital

Three simple words–wash your hands–headlined one of Mater Adult Hospital’s most intense campaigns of 2009.

The pilot ‘Hand Hygiene’ campaign, designed to optimse hand washing compliance amongst staff, visitors and patients, was launched on Wednesday 18 March 2009.

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Hand hygiene was first linked to a reduction in infection rates by Ignaz Semmelweis in 1847, when mortality rates among mothers delivering at the General Hospital in Vienna decreased considerably following significant improvements to hand hygiene. Hand hygiene still remains the simplest, most effective method of preventing health care associated infections.1

Initiated by Mater Adult Hospital Nursing Director Jeff Potter and Director Surgical/Urology Services Dr Geof Hirst the campaign used a multidisciplinary approach to maximse hand hygiene compliance across Mater’s largest provider of public health services.

“Hand washing, while simple, is extremely effective in controlling the spread of germs,” Mr Potter said.

“We felt it was essential that we remind staff, patients and visitors of their important role to help stop the transmission of germs.”

He said a steering committee of key staff from clinical areas, allied health, infection control, hotel services and marketing was created and designated Hand Hygiene ‘champions’ tasked with promoting the campaign across Mater Adult Hospital.

“Our overall campaign aims were to remind staff to wash their hands before and after each patient contact, encourage visitors to wash their hands before entering and leaving a patient’s room and to empower patients to ask staff if they’d washed their hands before any contact,” Mr Potter said.

Mater’s Infection Control department measured compliance across the hospital using a process adapted from a Queensland Health tool which records observations against key criteria.

An integral component of the campaign was the recognition of not only individuals but entire wards and departments.

“Each quarter, the ward with the highest hand hygiene compliance and which had shown the greatest improvement were presented with a trophy, certificates and each team member received a small gift,” Mr Potter said.

“It was a great way to reward staff for their exceptional efforts while also providing an incentive for continued improvement.”

Wash your hands!

Mater Adult Hospital’s Hand Hygiene ‘champions’ officially launch the campaign in March 2009.

1. Pittet, op.cit., p.234.

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