Although hand hygiene is known to be the key to preventing hospital acquired infections such as MRSA, compliance with good hygiene practices remains low. With healthcare-associated infections affecting, on average, five per cent of hospitalised patients in Ireland, NUI Galway is to lead a Health Research Board funded project to improve hand hygiene practice.
The three-year project will provide theoretical valid and practical tools and methodologies for improving hand hygiene compliance in Irish Intensive Care Units.
Effective hand hygiene practices are considered to be the most important strategy for preventing healthcare-associated infections. However, compliance with good hand hygiene practices has been historically low, leading to a national and international focus on improving hand hygiene practices.
“International bodies have made recommendations for how to improve hand hygiene practices, but there are serious weaknesses in the research evidence to guide the implementation of these interventions. As a result, infection control practices are not based on sound scientific knowledge, may be of limited effectiveness, and resources are not being used efficiently”, explains Dr Paul O’Connor, the Principle Investigator of the project.
“Although the hand hygiene procedure itself is simple, the behaviour related to hand hygiene is complex and is not readily understood, explained, or changed”, continued Dr O’Connor.
“We want to explore all the factors at play in the ICU setting, by involving all key stakeholders such as patients, nurses, doctors, healthcare providers and regulators. Collaboratively, we will identify the barriers for effective hand hygiene to ensure that limited resources are being used effectively. The goal is provide direction on ‘how’ standards of hand hygiene can be achieved rather than only defining ‘what’ standards must be achieved.”