Doctors, nurses don't want patients to bug them about hand washing

While a majority of healthcare workers responding to a survey on employee hand hygiene believe that reminders from patients would improve compliance, many of those same respondents had reservations about patient involvement in the first place.

The survey's findings were presented at the 50th Interscience Conference on Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, currently underway in Boston. According to an article published on Pediatric SuperSite, while 60 percent of the 277 respondents--all randomly selected doctors and nurses--believed that patient collaboration could help prevent medical errors, two-thirds had "negative feelings" about such participation programs.

"As a concept, [the healthcare workers] agreed, but many feared it would negatively impact [the] healthcare worker-patient relationship," said Dr. Yves Longtin of the Geneva University Hospital, one of the presenters of the data at the conference. "For example, some said admission of failure to comply with hand washing protocols could lead to legal action."

Forty-three percent added that they would "feel humiliated" if they had to admit poor hand hygiene habits. Another 30 percent of workers said they simply would not appreciate patient reminders. Some respondents (16 percent) felt that if patients were to get involved, accountability then would shift partially from the caregivers to those patients.

What's more, more than one-third of respondents said they would refuse to wear badges encouraging patients to ask about hand washing habits.

"Respondents had a pretty high impression of their own perceived levels of hand hygiene," Longtin said. "However, most believed they could improve."

To learn more:
- read this article on Pediatric SuperSite

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