Don’t look now, but visuals aid hand hygiene

July 12, 2016  //  FOUND IN: Updates & Resources,
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Part of the hand hygiene bulletin board in the Trauma Burn unit.

You often hear about the importance of washing your hands.  Now it’s easy to see why!

A recent study shows that a visual aid tends to improve hand-washing compliance by between 11 and 16 percent.

The study was conducted using a photograph of bacteria and germs on the hand of a healthcare worker who did not wash his or her hands. The image was placed next to the bacteria and germs of a compliant employee.

The Trauma Burn unit at UMHS found similar positive results when it launched a visual campaign around hand hygiene.

“It was a fun and engaging exercise,” said Tiffany Dogan, an infection preventionist at UMHS. “Being able to see the effects of hand-washing was an eye-opening experience. Staff members were eager to share their results, which created a nice forum to discuss the importance of hand hygiene. It was evident that seeing is believing.”

Trauma Burn isn’t the only UMHS unit doing great work with hand hygiene. The Children’s Emergency Services team earned honors as this month’s hand hygiene role models.

The photos used in the recent study are a reminder that it’s difficult to see what potentially harmful bacteria someone is carrying on their hands throughout the day. That is why UMHS’ hand hygiene policy states to “clean in/clean out” before and after seeing every patient — regardless of whether or not the employee plans to touch anything or is wearing gloves.

It’s easy to forget about hand hygiene — everyone is busy — and that is why it’s important to support your colleagues by reminding them if you see them forget to wash in or out, and thanking someone if you get reminded.

If you’d like to see UMHS’ most recent compliance data, click here.

And if you’re interested in how you can help encourage hand hygiene across UMHS, infection prevention provides you with many helpful resources.