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Reducing the Risk of Health Care–Associated Infections by Complying with CDC Hand Hygiene Guidelines

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Background: The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations has made the reduction of health care–associated infections one of its National Patient Safety Goals for 2005.

Case Study: A 57-year-old man who underwent coronary artery bypass graft surgery was discharged from the hospital without any complications. During his routine follow-up surgery clinic visit two weeks later, his sternal wound was found to be infected. Wound and blood cultures were positive for methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).

Implementing Solutions: Health care workers at Barnes-Jewish Hospital (BJH), St. Louis, attended a mandatory educational session that reviewed hand hygiene guidelines and the hospital policy related to hand hygiene and infection control. In addition, posters and flyers were posted. An increase in the use of alcohol hand rubs was found. In a later effort, a multidisciplinary hand hygiene campaign was launched at one of the BJC community hospitals. All physicians were sent hand hygiene materials and supplies, and signs were posted in key areas such as the hospital cafeteria. After a six-month period, the compliance rate increased from 35% to 53%.

Conclusion: Hospital-related infections will never be completely eradicated, but many can be prevented.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2005-03-01

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