Irish hand hygiene compliance rates at highest ever levels as 9 out of 10 health professionals have clean hands

Hand hygiene compliance rates are reported to be at their highest ever levels as the latest data from national audits shows that 9 out of 10 health professionals in Irish hospitals have clean hands. Good hand hygiene is a fundamental part of quality patient care and hand hygiene compliance rates in Irish hospitals now stand at 90.8%, above the HSE target of 90%.
Dr. Robert Cunney, HSE Clinical lead in Healthcare Associated Infections explains: “The HSE had set a target of achieving rates of compliance of more than 90%, which has now been surpassed but work is on-going with healthcare facilities to improve further by implementing action plans including education, training and re-audit programmes.
Irish healthcare facilities throughout the country are continuing to sign up to the WHO Multimodal Hand Hygiene campaign and many are planning local hand hygiene activities.”
Dr Cunney said; “Hand hygiene is the single most effective measure that healthcare workers, patients and the public can undertake to prevent healthcare associated infection which affect hundreds of millions of patients around the world every year. The HSE aims to build on improved rates of hand hygiene compliance amongst healthcare workers and spread this improvement in healthcare facilities outside of acute hospitals.
The latest hand hygiene compliance rates show an overall compliance rate of 90.8% in late 2016, a significant improvement on the 74.7% achieved in 2011 when hand hygiene audits were introduced. The progress to date is very welcome and improving it further is a priority for the HSE.”Good hand hygiene compliance is also important for patients and visitors.
For example, hand hygiene should be performed after coughing or sneezing, after going to the toilet and before mealtimes. As a patient or visitor it is ok to speak up and ask healthcare staff if they have cleaned their hands. Staff welcome help and reminders in keeping patients safe from infection. World Hand Hygiene Day takes place on the 5th day of May each year. Why? Because it is the 5th of the 5th and we have 5 fingers on each hand! So here are 5 key facts that we should all remember and keep fighting the good fight.

  • 80% of all infectious diseases are transmitted by touch.
  • Fingernails and the surrounding areas harbour the most bugs.
  • Other than getting the flu vaccine good hand hygiene is the single most important thing you can do to protect against the flu.
  • Hand hygiene with alcohol rub is more effective than using liquid soap in routine situations when providing care to patients. Hand hygiene with alcohol rub takes 15 to 30 seconds while hand hygiene with liquid soap takes 40 to 60 seconds. However, both healthcare workers and the public should remember to always used liquid soap after contact with a person with diarrhoea or if hands are physically dirty.
  • Gloves do not offer full protection and you still need to perform hand hygiene with alcohol rub or soap and water after removing your gloves.

“While the HSE has chosen World Hand Hygiene Day to emphasise the importance of hand hygiene, education and training takes place on an on-going basis to ensure that hand hygiene remains at the forefront of patient care,” added Dr Cunney.