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BC exceeds target for hand-washing compliance

Bruce GamageVANCOUVER – A quarterly report shows that hand cleaning rates among BC health care staff have exceeded the province’s target of 80 percent for the first time. A provincial target of 80 percent compliance was set by the Ministry of Health, to be reached by March 2015; this target was exceeded in the most recent audit period, April to June 2014.

Hand cleaning compliance has been steadily increasing since a provincial committee was struck in 2010.

“This is a milestone achievement, and shows how committed everyone in the province is to hand cleaning: the Ministry of Health, the health authorities, and healthcare staff,” said Bruce Gamage (pictured), Network Manager, Provincial Infection Control Network of BC.

Every quarter, trained auditors observe a sample of HCW working in acute care sites across each health authority, including nursing staff, physicians, clinical support services, and others such as housekeeping staff. Glove use is not a substitute for hand cleaning.

The percentage score reports how often HCW clean their hands when they are expected to do so. The health authorities do not all measure the compliance in exactly the same way (e.g. self-auditing versus dedicated auditors); however, all authorities are measuring the same thing.

Hand cleaning is an essential part of infection control, and to make sure that it’s being done regularly and consistently, hand cleaning audits take place throughout BC hospitals.

The latest audit report can be accessed here: http://s.picnet.ca/handcleaning.

There is still work to be done, as not all groups of healthcare staff achieved the 80 percent target; doctors continue to have the lowest compliance rate, at 67 percent. The health authorities plan to focus more of their efforts on reminding doctors. Patients are also encouraged to talk to their healthcare providers about hand cleaning.

Hand cleaning is the single most effective way to prevent the spread of infections; this is why the province and health authorities have made proper hand cleaning one of our top priorities for the health system. To wash your hands effectively, use plain soap and rub your hands together for 20 seconds.

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