Hyping Hygiene Awareness

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"Cleaner Hands, Fewer Infections? Maybe Not," [usnews.com] makes a critical point that even the single most effective intervention (in this instance, hand hygiene) alone can't solve the problem of healthcare-associated infections.

Certainly, even the best hand hygiene compliance only gets us so far. Lessons learned from our 12,000 members who manage infection prevention programs in healthcare facilities around the world tell us that to reduce the risk of infection and protect people coming in to hospitals means adopting a full range of strategies. The first step, from a facility-wide perspective, is conducting a proper risk assessment. Good infection prevention and control professionals don't just know their patients, they know their hospital, which areas are at high risk and where there may be hidden reservoirs of bacteria, be it the ER, or the OR. System-wide adoption of proper hand hygiene, contact precautions including use of gloves and gowns, and the "checklist" for device-related care that is receiving so much attention of late are among the tools known to be effective in preventing healthcare-associated infections. But without adequate resources and proper funding for infection prevention and control programs, and without the support of hospital leadership, we don't stand a chance in the war on infections. Hospital administrators must arm their infection control departments with the personnel and the dollars to implement comprehensive programs that include multiple interventions coordinated throughout the system.

Kathy L. Warye

Chief Executive Officer
Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology