The numbers can be disheartening. Studies show some healthcare providers practice hand hygiene less than half of the times they should and, on any given day, about 1 in 25 hospital patients has at least one healthcare-associated infection (HAI). Many germs that cause these infections are spread from patient to patient on the hands of healthcare providers.
While hospitals rapidly work through new processes and technology, one thing has remained constant—routine and thorough hand hygiene is essential for preventing the spread of germs (including the increasing threat of those resistant to antibiotics) and the development of HAIs in patients. While the healthcare field is far from the days when gloves were barely worn and hand hygiene was an after-thought, we are not at 100% compliance in facilities. Whether it is using traditional soap and water hand scrub or alcohol-based hand sanitizers, proper hand hygiene must continue to be emphasized by all champions of infection prevention because it is one practice that will remain constant for years to come.
In that spirit, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) and the South Carolina Hospital Association (SCHA) urge all healthcare facilities and organizations to join us in highlighting the single most important practice supported by evidence in helping eliminate cross-contamination and reduce the incidence of HAIs—proper and thorough hand hygiene.
We encourage all healthcare providers to utilize the materials created by the CDC and WHO to bring renewed awareness about the importance of hand hygiene in your facilities. These materials can also be used on social media on May 5 to encourage wider awareness to the fight against antibiotic resistance.
We also recommend CDC’s easy-to-use campaign materials available here.