Approximately one in five U.S. healthcare facilities doesnt make alcohol-based hand sanitizer available at every point of care, missing a critical opportunity to prevent healthcare-associated infections, according to research from the Columbia University School of Nursing and the World Health Organization.
The study, published in the American Journal of Infection Control, examined compliance with WHO hand hygiene guidelines in the U.S. and found only about half of the hospitals, ambulatory care and long-term care facilities had set aside funds in their budgets for hand hygiene training.
A research team jointly led by Laurie Conway, RN, MS, CIC, PhD student at Columbia, and Benedetta Allegranzi, MD, lead of the WHO infection control program Clean Care is Safer Care, surveyed compliance at a sample of 168 facilities in 42 states and Puerto Rico. Overall, 77.5% of facilities reported that alcohol-based sanitizer was continuously available at every point of care, the study found. About one in 10 facilities reported that senior leaders didnt make a clear commitment to support hand hygiene improvement, according to the study.
When hospitals dont focus heavily on hand hygiene, that puts patients at unnecessary risk for preventable healthcare-associated infections, Conway said in a news release. The tone for compliance with infection control guidelines is set at the highest levels of management, and our study also found that executives arent always doing all that they can to send a clear message that preventing infections is a priority.
The study is titled Status of the implementation of the World Health Organization multimodal hand hygiene strategy in United States of American healthcare facilities.
Elaine Larson, RN, PhD, FAAN, associate dean for research at Columbia Nursing, also contributed to the hand hygiene study.
The survey also shows that facilities participating in the WHO global hand hygiene campaign achieved a higher level of progress, co-author Didier Pittet, MD, MS, director, infection control program and WHO Collaborating Center on Patient Safety, University of Geneva Hospitals and Faculty of Medicine, Geneva, Switzerland, said in the release. U.S. healthcare facilities would certainly benefit from coordinated national and sub-national efforts aimed at hand hygiene improvement.