Proper hygiene, particularly hand hygiene, is widely recognized as the single most effective preventative measure for healthcare workers when it comes to the prevention of HAIs (healthcare-associated infections). The electronic hand hygiene monitoring system follow the introduction of the NHHI (National Hand Hygiene Initiative), which is a standard approach to hygiene practices.
Basically, such approach includes these five moments for hand hygiene which are considered the most important situations where hand hygiene should be properly observed by the workers:
- Before any procedure
- Before touching the patients
- After touching the patients
- After any procedure
- After touching the surroundings around the patients
Why the Initiative Took Place
In 2009, a comprehensive auditing program which is designed for measuring the compliance with the 5 above moments was established in acute care hospitals. The data gathered from the program is published regularly on the Hand Hygiene Australia website.
Meanwhile, in less acute settings, compliance with the hand hygiene practice is monitored with the help of process indicators like evaluating the availability of hygiene products and proper technique.
Apart from preventing HAIs via hand hygiene, there has been a focus for the role of environmental cleanliness these past few years. The Tasmanian Infection Prevention and Control Unit reported the importance of HAI prevention and how it can affect the environment. Basically, patients who are suffering from infection can contaminate the environment.
Microorganisms from said patients can be spread to other sites mainly from the hands of visitors, patients, and the healthcare workers. Subsequently, these microorganisms could possibly infect other patients.
Various factors could contribute to the possibility of a contaminated surface leading to the transmission of a healthcare-associated infection, including a microorganism’s ability to thrive in various environmental surfaces and the contamination level of such surfaces.
Things to Consider
Various details with regards to maintaining hygiene and routine cleaning of surfaces, either minimally or frequently touched, were given by the Australian Guidelines for the Prevention and Control of Infection.
These guidelines focused on the regular cleaning of surfaces which are within the patients’ surroundings as well as the importance of cleaning shared hospital equipment between patients.
Both hand and environmental hygiene are key strategies to prevent the growth and spread of infection, and they’re important aspects every healthcare worker should understand. Highlighting the connection between hygiene and the environment as everybody’s business is what infection control professionals are trying to convey. Apart from that are the following key considerations:
- Frequently touched objects are a breeding ground for potentially harmful microorganisms and could, therefore, have a risk of spreading and transferring pathogens
- Environmental cleaning and proper hygiene can minimize, if not eliminate, environmental contamination, thereby reducing the risks of infection and microorganisms from spreading
- There’s a higher risk of a patient acquiring pathogens when admitted to a room which was previously occupied by a patient who was infected with said pathogens
- The environment can transmit microorganisms which can cause infection if not prevented; likewise, it has a potential role in its prevention
That said, we can conclude that proper hygiene and the environment do go hand-in-hand. By observing proper hygiene, we can prevent the spread of microorganisms to the environment. Meanwhile, with no microorganisms present, the environment won’t be able to transmit them around us.