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.World Hand Hygiene Day

See the following for more information: 

National Hand Hygiene Initiative

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 WHO '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.

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How SA is supporting the National Hand Hygiene Initiative

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.

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Guideline and policy directive

The SA Health Hand Hygiene Policy directive (PDF 299KB) establishes a uniform approach to hand hygiene across the public health sector. 

The associated SA Health Hand Hygiene Guideline (PDF 223KB) summarises best practice for healthcare workers in the clinical setting.

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Audit tools

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:

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.

Further audits are available via the Hand Hygiene Australia, including:

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Fact sheets and posters

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.

Click on the below images to download the relevant poster. 

Hand hygiene poster - So You&aposre Worred.Hand hygiene poster - Clean hands save livesHand hygiene poster - Go ahead clean your handsHand hygiene poster - You had me at clean hands Hand hygiene poster - Stop & Clean Before Contact Hand hygiene poster - I feel the need, the need for clean handsHand hygiene poster - Hands clean now you mustHand hygiene poster - I see clean handsHand hygiene poster - I&aposll be back after I clean my hands

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Sampling matrix

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.

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World Hand Hygiene Day

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).

Information on the latest campaign can be found on the WHO hand hygiene campaign website


SA Health eLearning courses

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.

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Compliance rates across SA Health

Annually SA Health checks the compliance rates of hand hygiene across SA Health. Here is how we all measured up:

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Further information

For further information on hand hygiene contact SA Health Infection Control Service on (08) 7425 7161. 




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