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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 more than 430 public and private hospitals.

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

Rates of effective hand hygiene are being published by the Performance Authority to support greater transparency and quality improvement around this practice, given its link to patient safety.

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 handwashing or cleaning 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 Performance 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 Performance Authority encourages those interested to view results for individual hospitals. This can be done by taking the following steps:

  1. Go to the www.myhospitals.gov.au website
  2. Navigate to the pages specific to any hospital (which can be done by entering a hospital name, place or postcode into the “Search for hospital” field in the middle of the home page)
  3. Select the “Safety and quality” menu
  4. Click the “Hand hygiene” link for hand hygiene results.

Download data (PDF, 157.7 KB)