Helping You and the People Around You to Stay Healthy
Preventing the Spread of Infection in Healthcare Facilities
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1.7 million infections are acquired during a stay at a healthcare facility each year in the U.S. with approximately 99,000 associated deaths. These healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) account for nearly 5-10 percent of hospitalized patients and per the Department of Health and Human Services, HAIs add nearly $20 billion to healthcare costs each year.
HAIs are transmitted in healthcare facilities through several routes. To combat HAIs, hospitals have implemented infection control programs with guidance from the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations and Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology. These programs establish guidelines that hospital personnel should follow to prevent or control the spread of infection.
Fast Fact: The CDC states that healthcare-associated infections are a threat to patient safety and hand hygiene saves lives!
Hand hygiene is the most important and least expensive measure to prevent transmission of HAIs, but healthcare workers have been found to adhere to proper hand hygiene practices at an average of 40 percent. Listed below are some of the reasons why:
- Heavy workloads.
- Hand irritation.
- Sinks are poorly located.
- Lack of soap, paper, towel.
- Hands don't look dirty.
Source: CDC, WHO Guidelines on Hand Hygiene in Healthcare
"Hospital administrators need to consider the fact, if purchasing more effective or more acceptable hand hygiene products improves hand hygiene practices, preventing only a few additional healthcare-acquired infections per year will lead to savings that well exceed any incremental costs of better hand hygiene products."
- CDC Recommendation
Critical Elements in Preventing the Spread of Infections
- The simple act of hand hygiene reduces infection risk more than any other practice.
- Remind co-workers to wash and dry hands.
- Change gloves as necessary and then wash and dry hands.
- Disinfect equipment touched with gloves or hands.
- Use proper techniques for specimen collection.
- Use touchless systems that eliminate common contact surfaces.
- Use disposables such as personal wash cloths and towels.
To reduce the risk of cross-contamination from touching door knobs or faucet handles, use paper towels after hands are dried to open doors or turn off water taps if touchless systems are unavailable.
CDC/HICPAC. Draft Guideline for Hand Hygiene in Healthcare Settings. John M. Boyce, MD: Didier Pittet, MD, MS; the HICPAC/SHEA/APIC/IDSA 2001. Hand Hygiene Task Force; and the Healthcare Infection Control Practices Advisory Committee.