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Data release: Hand hygiene (explanatory notes)

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Summary

The National Health Performance Authority has today published updated information on hand hygiene rates for Audit Period 1, ending March 2015 and Audit Period 2, ending June 2015.

‘Hand hygiene’ is a measure of the extent to which health care workers clean or disinfect their hands before and while caring for patients, either by washing in soap and water or by using other products such as disinfectant gels. Effective hand hygiene practices play an important role in preventing the spread of disease-causing bacteria, which can cause dangerous or even life-threatening infections particularly in more vulnerable patients.

Rates of effective hand hygiene are published by the National Health Performance Authority (the Authority) to support greater transparency and quality improvement around this practice, given its link to patient safety. There is a national benchmark for health care workers to clean their hands correctly in at least 70.0% of observed opportunities called ‘moments’.

Due to the way in which hand hygiene data is collected, this information is not deemed to be comparable between hospitals. As it is not practical to count every single instance when hand-washing would be expected, sampling techniques are used instead. However, while standard practices have been adopted regarding what hospitals measure when they gather hand hygiene information, the process for sampling has not been standardised. This means we cannot be sure that comparing hand hygiene rates for different hospitals results in a like-with-like comparison. Therefore, for this release the Authority has not prepared interactive comparative tools or results tables that allow hospital hand hygiene rates to be viewed side-by-side.

Although not nationally comparable, hand hygiene information is still useful to help drive quality improvement efforts within hospitals. The Authority encourages those interested to view results for individual hospitals. This can be done by taking the following steps:

  1. Go to www.myhospitals.gov.au
  2. Navigate to the pages specific to any hospital (which can be done by entering a hospital name or postcode into the ‘Find your local hospitals’ search field at the middle left of the home page)
  3. Select the ‘Safety and quality’ tab on the left-hand-side of the menu
  4. Click the ‘hand hygiene’ link.

Note: The link is only available if data are reported for the selected hospital.

Image displaying navigation steps to locate a specific hospital's hand hygiene page on MyHospitals
Download notes (PDF, 261.7 KB)