Compliance with hand hygiene guidelines still low in Dutch hospitals

Compliance with hand hygiene guidelines still low in Dutch hospitals

The guidelines with regard to hand hygiene, for the prevention of care-related infections, are not adequately adhered to. The environment, colleague’s behavior, habit and familiarity with the guidelines all have an impact on hand hygiene. On 25 April, Vicki Erasmus, scientific researcher at Erasmus MC, will receive her doctorate for research on the hand hygiene behavior in Dutch hospitals.

Care-related infections such as hospital infections are a public health hazard. Some of the hospital infections can be prevented by strict observance of hygiene guidelines. One of the conclusions taken from the thesis by Vicki Erasmus, researcher at Erasmus MC’s Public Health department, is that the compliance level is low. Erasmus studied, among other, the compliance with current hand hygiene guidelines and which individual and environmental factors play a role in this. In addition, Erasmus determined how the compliance with the guidelines can be promoted. A representative sample taken in 24 Dutch hospitals shows that the hand hygiene guideline compliance level is 20 percent. Erasmus: “This means that for every five required hand hygiene moments the hands are actually only washed once.”

There is no difference between the behavior of physicians and nurses. It is particularly a matter of habit although among nurses the behavior of colleagues also plays a major role. For physicians it is important that they are sufficiently aware of the guidelines. Furthermore, it is frequently difficult to comply with the guidelines because of, for example, bad layout design in rooms. Erasmus: “In addition to training and providing feedback, it is important to pay attention to the social process, for example, by using role models. Good habits can be promoted by designing optimal work environments by, for example, having hand alcohol dispensers always within easy reach.”

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