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Infection Control

Ownership over handwashing

July 17, 2012
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OTTAWA, ON — Despite the lengths Canadian hospitals have gone to in order to improve handwashing compliance among doctors, optimal hand hygiene practices continues to hover under 40 percent, while healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) affect some 220,000 Canadians, killing more than 8,000 annually, according to a press release.

Some infection control experts are now embracing a sink-or-swim notion — that the solution to all those little bugs crawling all over the fingers of physicians and nurses lies in the hands of front-line staff, the release stated.

According to the release, physicians and nurses should craft their own strategies for improving hand hygiene, as long as they are prepared to have the results reported publicly.

"Allowing staff to take ownership of the problem may be far more effective than measures dictated by infection control divisions," said Dr. Michael Gardam, physician director of the Community and Hospital Infection Control Association Canada and director of infection prevention and control at University Health Network (UHN) in Toronto.

"It''s a very complex problem that requires multiple strategies and they need to be locally owned strategies rather than one-size-fits-all," Gardarn added.

"Accountability mechanisms are more effective when driven by staff," said Tobie Guinez, a clinical nurse educator at the Mazankowski Alberta Heart Institute in Edmonton.

"I think whenever you go out there and you''re making changes and you''re deciding what''s going to work for front-line staff who are out there in the rooms every day, it doesn''t work. The ideas need to come from them. They need to think about what''s important and how it''s going to work for them," Guinez concluded.

Click here to read the complete release.

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