Middlemore Hospital in Auckland, New Zealand has been found to be falling short in hand hygiene, according to a snapshot investigation.
In 10 wards at Middlemore, it has been observed that more than a third of health professionals do not wash their hands when they should, although the hospital board had introduced a campaign on this specific subject recently. It had been made very clear that it is mandatory health professionals must thoroughly clean their hands before and after touching a patient, before and after any healthcare procedure and after touching a patient's immediate surroundings. And the expectation was 100 per cent compliance.
This campaign was launched as a response to national and international safety schemes, and also, because in an earlier survey it was noted that only 71 per cent of three wards heeded to instructions on hand hygiene. Ironically, with the campaign being launched the overall figure has dropped down to 62 per cent.
However, a serious enquiry of senior staff by the county's Manukau District Health Board, has brought up a difference in opinion. Skeptical about the snapshot evidence, the Clinical Director of the board's quality improvement unit, Dr. Mary Seddon has stated that hand hygiene has 73 per cent compliance as opposed to an earlier figure of 77 per cent.
Although this data has been collected by the nursing staff themselves, which Dr. Seddon feels would help them to take ownership of the problem, she herself admits that the figure is not a measurement, but a guide.
Hand hygiene is a vital issue that impacts the rate of infections, especially in this time of superbugs and resistance to antibiotics. And 100 per cent compliance with the hospital's standards should be a given.