Talk to the Hand…Hygiene: U-M Doc’s TED Talk Speaks to Infection Prevention

June 9, 2016  //  FOUND IN: Strategy & Leadership,

UMHS isn’t the first institution to grapple with the issue of hand hygiene. In fact, hand hygiene has been driving people crazy (literally and metaphorically!) since its benefits were first discovered more than 150 years ago. The first doctor to espouse the practice was ignored, largely ostracized by colleagues, and ultimately committed to an asylum for his troubles. Sadly, in many respects too little has changed since the days of poor Ignaz Semmelweis, says Dr. Sanjay Saint, U-M Professor of Internal Medicine and Director of the VA/University of Michigan Patient Safety Enhancement Program.

“My colleagues and I have been studying how to prevent hospital infections for years. Our research found that opposition to hospitals’ infection prevention initiatives comes from a type of health care worker that we classified as active resisters,” says Dr. Saint. “Active resisters are people who like doing things a certain way for the simple reason that things have always been done that way.”

In his TED talk, Dr. Saint discusses the deadly nature of many hospital-acquired infections and how they can often be prevented with simple hand washing techniques, a subject that continues to be an institutional priority at UMHS.  Here’s what you can and should do:

CLEAN: Clean in and out of patient rooms and between tasks.

REMIND: Remind others when they may miss an opportunity for hand hygiene.

THANK: If reminded about hand hygiene, respond by saying thank you!

Practicing proper hand hygiene is a relatively small thing that everyone in every unit, department and role can do to have a comparatively large impact on the overall safety and health of our patients who deserve no less.