Private Enterprise “computer-chip makers have better hand-cleaning standards than most hospitals”

With rising alarm over hospital infections, which cause 90,000 deaths annually, a growing number of hospitals are adopting aggressive hand-hygiene surveillance and monitoring programs, and in some cases imposing penalties for doctors, nurses, and other health-care workers who don’t follow the rules.
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Despite strict guidelines issued by the CDC to stop the spread of bacteria on contaminated hands, and wide adoption of alcohol-based hand-rub dispensers in patient rooms and hospital corridors to make it easier for harried health-care workers to disinfect between patients, compliance rates remain mired at 40% to 50% nationwide, studies show.
The IHI program recommends a far more activist approach that holds hospital administrators and staffers accountable for failure.
“It no longer is tolerable to accept noncompliance rates of more than 50% when we are dealing with critically ill patients,” says Don Goldmann, a senior vice president of IHI and a professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School, who notes that computer-chip makers have better hand-cleaning standards than most hospitals. While the IHI program emphasizes education and positive feedback, “repeated violations in health-care, or any industry, need to have consequences,” Dr. Goldmann says.

For the full story, see:
LAURA LANDRO. “THE INFORMED PATIENT; Hospitals Get Aggressive About Hand Washing; Staff Surveillance Programs, New Penalties Aim to Boost Sagging Compliance Rates.” The Wall Street Journal (Weds., April 5, 2006): D3.

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