Patients’ Hand Washing and Reducing Hospital-Acquired Infection

Stacy Haverstick et al. | Patients’ Hand Washing and Reducing Hospital-Acquired Infection
Critical Care Nurse | June 2017 | 37:e1-e8;

Background:  Hand hygiene is important to prevent hospital-acquired infections. Patients’ hand hygiene is just as important as hospital workers’ hand hygiene. Hospital-acquired infection rates remain a concern across health centers.

Objectives: To improve patients’ hand hygiene through the promotion and use of hand washing with soap and water, hand sanitizer, or both and improve patients’ education to reduce hospital-acquired infections.

Methods: In August 2013, patients in a cardiothoracic postsurgical step-down unit were provided with individual bottles of hand sanitizer. Nurses and nursing technicians provided hand hygiene education to each patient. Patients completed a 6-question survey before the intervention, at hospital discharge and 1, 2, and 3 months after the intervention. Hospital-acquired infection data were tracked monthly by infection prevention staff.

Results: Significant correlations were found between hand hygiene and rates of infection with vancomycin-resistant enterococci (P = .003) and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (P = .01) after the intervention. After the implementation of hand hygiene interventions, rates of both infections declined significantly and patients reported more staff offering opportunities for and encouraging hand hygiene.

Conclusion: This quality improvement project demonstrates that increased hand hygiene compliance by patients can influence infection rates in an adult cardiothoracic step-down unit. The decreased infection rates and increased compliance with hand hygiene among the patients may be attributed to the implementation of patient education and the increased accessibility and use of hand sanitizer.

 

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Patient engagement with surgical site infection prevention

Tartari E, et al. (2017) Patient engagement with surgical site infection prevention: an expert panel perspective. Antimicrobial Resistance & Infection Control | Published online: 12 May 2017

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Despite remarkable developments in the use of surgical techniques, ergonomic advancements in the operating room, and implementation of bundles, surgical site infections (SSIs) remain a substantial burden, associated with increased morbidity, mortality and healthcare costs.

National and international recommendations to prevent SSIs have been published, including recent guidelines by the World Health Organization, but implementation into clinical practice remains an unresolved issue. SSI improvement programs require an integrative approach with measures taken during the pre-, intra- and postoperative care from the numerous stakeholders involved.

The current SSI prevention strategies have focused mainly on the role of healthcare workers (HCWs) and procedure related risk factors. The importance and influence of patient participation is becoming an increasingly important concept and advocated as a means to improve patient safety. Novel interventions supporting an active participative role within SSI prevention programs have not been assessed. Empowering patients with information they require to engage in the process of SSI prevention could play a major role for the implementation of recommendations.

Based on available scientific evidence, a panel of experts evaluated options for patient involvement in order to provide pragmatic recommendations for pre-, intra- and postoperative activities for the prevention of SSIs. Recommendations were based on existing guidelines and expert opinion. As a result, 9 recommendations for the surgical patient are presented here, including a practice brief in the form of a patient information leaflet. HCWs can use this information to educate patients and allow patient engagement.

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Patient engagement with infection management in secondary care

Rawson, T.M. et al. BMJ Open. 6:e011040

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Objective: To understand patient engagement with decision-making for infection management in secondary care and the consequences associated with current practices.

Design: A qualitative investigation using in-depth focus groups.

Participants: Fourteen members of the public who had received antimicrobials from secondary care in the preceding 12 months in the UK were identified for recruitment. Ten agreed to participate. All participants had experience of infection management in secondary care pathways across a variety of South-East England healthcare institutes. Study findings were subsequently tested through follow-up focus groups with 20 newly recruited citizens.

Results: Participants reported feelings of disempowerment during episodes of infection in secondary care. Information is communicated in a unilateral manner with individuals ‘told’ that they have an infection and will receive an antimicrobial (often unnamed), leading to loss of ownership, frustration, anxiety and ultimately distancing them from engaging with decision-making. This poor communication drives individuals to seek information from alternative sources, including online, which is associated with concerns over reliability and individualisation. Failures in communication and information provision by clinicians in secondary care influence individuals’ future ideas about infections and their management. This alters their future actions towards antimicrobials and can drive prescription non-adherence and loss to follow-up.

Conclusions: Current infection management and antimicrobial prescribing practices in secondary care fail to engage patients with the decision-making process. Secondary care physicians must not view infection management episodes as discrete events, but as cumulative experiences which have the potential to shape future patient behaviour and understanding of antimicrobial use.

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