Hospital infections 'unacceptable and avoidable'

Hospitals must do a better job of enforcing hand-washing rules, especially for nurses, to counter "unacceptable and avoidable" hospital infection rates, according to new guidance from the U.K.'s National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE).

One in every 16 people in the National Health Service [NHS] system--300,000 a year--acquire an infection. 

"It is unacceptable that infection rates are still so high within the NHS," said Gillian Leng, deputy chief executive and director of health and social care at NICE. "Infections are a costly and avoidable burden. They hinder a patient's recovery, can make underlying conditions worse and reduce quality of life."

NICE breaks down the guidelines into six areas: Anti-microbial stewardship; organizational responsibility; hand decontamination; urinary catheters; vascular access devices and education.

"The six statements in the quality standard are entirely appropriate and I'm particularly pleased to see the link to antimicrobial resistance alongside the use of antibiotics," Rose Gallagher, the Royal College of Nursing's professional lead on infection control and antimicrobial resistance, told the Nursing Times

Video surveillance and the presence of another person may improve hand-washing compliance, according to a new study from PLOS One. For the study, researchers installed video cameras in the washing areas outside latrines of four Nairobi, Kenya public schools. They found that overall hand-washing rates were 48 percent when a student was alone, compared to 71 percent when another student was present, according to the study.

"Hopefully, video surveillance will be added to the toolbox for accurately measuring hand-hygiene behavior, thus improving monitoring and evaluation of interventions around the world," lead author Amy Pickering, a research associate at the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment, said in a statement.

"Hand-washing is notoriously difficult to study. Video surveillance looks to be a promising strategy for obtaining reliable information, even in resource-constrained settings," added co-author Jenna Davis, a senior fellow at Woods.

A 2013 study found hand-washing compliance increases among healthcare workers when they leave rooms, work the evening shift or enter the rooms of patients known to be infected with antibiotic-resistant bacteria, FierceHealthcare previously reported.

To learn more:
- here's the NICE guidance
- here's the Nursing Times article
- here's the PLOS One study
- here's the study announcement