CDC: Increase hand-washing to reduce hospital-acquired infections

Despite recent research that suggests too much hand-washing isn't good, a new study from the Centers for the Disease Control and Prevention calls for hospital leaders to take a “more is better” approach.  

The study, published in Emerging Infectious Diseases, monitored the effects of the 853-bed University of North Caroline Hospitals' “Clean In, Clean Out” hand-hygiene program, implemented in October 2013. The initiative emphasized that all personnel clean their hands upon entering and exiting patient rooms, and also called on all those personnel to provide immediate feedback and make observations.

Lead author Emily Sickbert-Bennett, M.D., of the UNC, Chapel Hill, and her team analyzed hand-washing data over a 17-month period and found that UNC’s rates of compliance increased from an already-high rate of about 80 percent to 95 percen5. During the same period, healthcare-associated infections (HAI) also decreased, according to the study. While they acknowledged the possibility that the lower HAI rates were due to unrelated factors, the researchers noted the UNC system did not implement any other infection-control initiatives over the study period.

“Demonstrating the importance of continuously improving hand-hygiene compliance is critical for staff and hospital leaders who may underestimate the impact on HAI,” Sickbert-Bennett and her team wrote. A program designed to improve hand-hygiene compliance among hospital staff successfully engaged all healthcare personnel in monitoring and improving their own hand-hygiene compliance. This pursuit of excellence for hand- hygiene compliance led to substantial HAI reductions hospital wide."

- here’s the study