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Safety & quality

Hand hygiene

Hand hygiene in hospitals generally refers to the use of soap and water or other products (such as alcohol-based hand rub) by healthcare workers to clean their hands. The aim is for healthcare workers to perform hand hygiene correctly at every opportunity, for example, before and after touching a patient. Good hand hygiene is one of the most effective ways to minimise the risk of healthcare-associated infections, such as Staphylococcus aureus bloodstream infections.

The National Hand Hygiene InitiativeExternal link, opens in a new window.[http://www.hha.org.au] is being progressively implemented in Australian hospitals to improve hand hygiene. Hand hygiene in hospitals is measured through an audit process, in which trained observers watch for opportunities (called ‘moments’) when hand washing or cleaning ought to occur in order to ensure good infection control.

The national benchmark is for healthcare workers to clean their hands correctly in at least 70.0% of these ‘moments’ observed during an audit period at a hospital. A higher number of audited 'moments' will generate a more reliable compliance rate estimate. Methods will be developed to enable fair comparison of the estimated compliance rate with the national benchmark and with results achieved by other hospitals.

Hand hygiene rate

For Audit Period 2, ending June 2014, the estimated rate was 84.9% based on 2,682 hand hygiene ‘moments’.

Audit period Number of ‘moments’ Estimated rate National benchmark
Audit Period 2, ending June 2014 2,682 84.9%
70.0%
Audit Period 1, ending March 2014 4,250 79.1%
70.0%
Audit Period 3, ending October 2013 1,441 83.8%
70.0%
Audit Period 2, ending June 2013 2,127 82.4%
70.0%
Audit Period 1, ending March 2013 1,840 87.7%
70.0%
Audit Period 3, ending October 2012 2,655 81.9%
70.0%
Audit Period 2, ending June 2012 2,750 84.2%
70.0%
Audit Period 1, ending March 2012 3,334 74.3%
70.0%
Audit Period 3, ending October 2011 3,799 79.9%
70.0%

National benchmark