New hand hygiene programs in Victorian hospitals have led to marked reductions in infections with methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), according to a research article published in the latest issue of the Medical Journal of Australia.
Professor Lindsay Grayson, from the Department of Medicine at Austin Hospital and University of Melbourne, and his co-authors carried out a two-year pilot program using alcohol-based hand rub solutions (ABHRSs) in six Victorian health care institutions.
After the pilot program, the hand hygiene culture-change program was implemented throughout Victorian public hospitals over a 12-month period.
Mean hand hygiene compliance improved significantly at all pilot program sites - from 21 per cent to 48 per cent at the end of the two-year trial. A similar change in hand hygiene compliance occurred over the 12 months of the statewide program.
In both the pilot program and in the statewide rollout, the number of patients with MRSA in the blood more than halved. "This appears to be possibly the single most effective initiative to addressing the current problems with MRSA in our hospitals", state the authors.
The study dispels previous doubts about whether hand hygiene programs could be effectively introduced as a statewide policy initiative. The authors believe their data clearly demonstrate that generic multi-site hand hygiene culture-change programs can be highly effective if they are carefully planned and implemented.
"Long-term sustainability of improved hand hygiene compliance is likely to require that such programs become a permanent feature of how each hospital does business," say the authors. "Infection Control needs to become everyone's business, not just hospitals".
The Medical Journal of Australia
is a publication of the Australian Medical Association.