Nearly 1 in 4 hospitals fail in hand hygiene

Though hospitals' performance on hand-hygiene practices has improved, 23 percent still fail to meet all 10 best practices the Leapfrog Group outlines in its latest quality and safety report, according to the nonprofit organization.

Seventy-seven percent of participating hospitals met all 10 recommended practices in 2014, up from 69 percent the previous year. Urban hospitals "continue to outperform" their rural counterparts in compliance with the recommendations, and safe-practice adoption also varied widely from state to state, according to the report.

Leapfrog's 10 recommended practices include: hospital-wide hand-hygiene training and education; submitting a report on hand-hygiene recommendations to the hospital's board of directors; holding clinical, administrative and patient safety leadership accountable for hand hygiene; documenting hand-hygiene education expenditures; implementing protocols to prevent hospital-acquired infections (HAIs) that result from inadequate hand hygiene; and creating/maintaining performance improvement programs on the subject.

Of these practices, hospitals were least likely to hold patient safety officers accountable for hand-hygiene improvements via compensation or performance reviews, though 87 percent had this protocol in place, the report states. Meanwhile, 99 percent of facilities surveyed said they had adopted hospital-wide education and training on hand hygiene and HAI prevention.

Even with the overall improvement among hospitals, Leapfrog believes providers could do more, President and CEO Leah Binder said in an announcement. "There is no excuse for a hospital to fail on hand hygiene," she said. "It puts patients, clinicians and all healthcare workers at risk when hand-washing is not a priority."

Even as hospitals toil to improve hand-hygiene compliance, however, they may face significant barriers. A 2014 survey found that hospitals' actual compliance rates fall significantly short of reported rates, and a study in early 2015 warned that efforts to improve hand hygiene may contribute to a rise in dermatitis among healthcare workers, a condition that carries increased infection risks. Proper hand-hygiene protocols also are not enough to control the spread of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus among hospitalized patients.

To learn more:
- here's the report (.pdf)
- read the announcement