Hand hygiene in the healthcare environment
Hand hygiene is one of the most effective measures to prevent the spread of infection. The most common way that harmful organisms are spread between patients in health care settings is on the hands of health care workers. Studies show that effective hand decontamination can significantly reduce the rate of healthcare associated infection.
- National Hand Hygiene Initiative
- How SA is supporting the National Hand Hygiene Initiative
- Guideline and policy directive
- Audit tools
- Fact sheets and posters
- Sampling matrix
- Hand Hygiene Day
- SA Health eLearning courses
- Compliance rates across SA Health
- Further information
As part of the World Health Organisation's First Global Patient Safety Challenge, the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care (ACSQHC) has established the National Hand Hygiene Initiative and engaged Hand Hygiene Australia (HHA) to implement a culture-change program into all health services throughout Australia. The Hand Hygiene Australia program consists of education packages, resources and a national database of hand hygiene compliance audit results. Compliance with hand hygiene according to the '5 moments' is recorded by specially trained and validated auditors, and hospitals are required to submit data three times per year according to the Hand Hygiene Australia schedule. The number of 'moments' required to be audited is proportional to the size of the hospital.
South Australia is supporting this initiative by including hand hygiene compliance as a key performance indicator of patient safety and quality of health care delivery. SA Health has provided several resources to assist healthcare facilities to implement the HHA program.
SA Health supports World Hand Hygiene Day campaign annually.
The SA Health Hand Hygiene Policy directive (PDF 182KB) establishes a uniform approach to hand hygiene across the public health sector.
The associated SA Health Hand Hygiene Guideline (PDF 196KB) summarises best practice for healthcare workers in the clinical setting.
The self-assessment audit tools (based on the generic WHO tool) are designed to audit a healthcare facility’s Hand Hygiene Program. There are two versions available:
- Hand hygiene self assessment tool - acute hospital setting (PDF 227KB)
- Hand hygiene self assessment tool - community / residential care setting (PDF 228KB)
- Phlebotomy auditor guide (PDF 95KB)
- Dialysis auditor guide (PDF 93KB)
The observational audit tool (PDF 133KB) is specifically designed for those healthcare facilities that do not submit compliance data to Hand Hygiene Australia.This tool may be useful to estimate overall hand hygiene compliance and is in keeping with the HHA 5 Moments for hand hygiene.
A hand hygiene competency tool (PDF 87KB) has been developed to assess staff competency in carrying out an effective hand hygiene rub or wash.
The below fact sheets have general information on the use and selection of alcohol-based hand rub products and the appropriate use of gloves in health care.
- Alcohol based hand rub (PDF 174KB)
- Appropriate use of glove use (PDF 90KB)
- SA Health Appropriate glove use poster (PDF 33KB)
- HHA posters
- WHO posters
Click on the below images to download the relevant poster.
The sampling matrix fact sheets are designed to assist health care facilities decide on suitable areas from which to collect hand hygiene compliance data for the submission to national program in accordance with Hand Hygiene Australia recommendations.
World Hand Hygiene Day, 5 May, is part of a major global effort led by the World Health Organization (WHO). This day aims to support health-care workers to improve hand hygiene in health care and accordingly support the prevention of often life threatening healthcare associated infection (HAI).
The most common complication affecting patients in hospital is HAI, with around 200,000 reported cases in Australian acute healthcare facilities annually.
Effective hand hygiene is considered to be one of the most important and basic measures available in preventing the spread of HAIs, with hands being the main pathways of germ transmission during health care.
The WHO has nominated a 2017 hand hygiene spotlight on antimicrobial resistance (AMR). Their focus is on cleaning hands at the right times to stop the spread of AMR. Hand hygiene is at the core of effective infection prevention and control to prevent antibiotic resistance.
Infection prevention courses are available to all SA Health employees to support the 10 National Safety and Quality Health Service Standards. There are currently three infection prevention related courses available to staff:
- Infection Prevention and Control
- Aseptic Technique
- Safe Use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
For further information, visit the Infection control education and training page.
Annually SA Health checks the compliance rates of hand hygiene across SA Health. Here is how we all measured up:
- SA Health (PDF 307KB)
- Central Adelaide LHN (PDF 290KB)
- Southern Adelaide LHN (PDF 290KB)
- Northern Adelaide LHN (PDF 283KB)
- Country Health SA LHN (PDF 284KB)
- Women's and Children's Health Network (PDF 283KB)
For further information on hand hygiene contact SA Health Infection Control Service on (08) 7425 7161.