Hospital 'safe' despite rating

Nelson Hospital staff are scrubbing up after Nelson Marlborough DHB scored third worst in the country for hand hygiene.

Hand Hygiene New Zealand has released its compliance data report for the period covering July 8 to October 31 and Nelson Marlborough District Health Board has confirmed it received a compliance rate of 50.1 per cent, which is the third worst in the country. However, service manager allied health Hilary Exton said she did not believe there was anything going wrong within the hospital.

"The hand hygiene programme is relatively new and DHBs around the country are at different stages of implementation."

NMDHB had begun implementation of the World Health Organisation's Five Moments to Hand Hygiene programme last year, she said.

Although the compliance rate could be higher, being the first full audit it would be a baseline to work from. "We now know where the problem is."

The importance now was to educate staff and have them understanding all aspects of hand hygiene, Ms Exton said.

Most of their results were in line with the national ones.

The five steps to hand hygiene were before and after touching a patient, before procedures, after any exposure and after touching surroundings.

One of the focuses was hygiene after being in the patients' surroundings. "[Hand hygiene] is not just about when you touch the patients. It might be something like touching their bedside cabinet."

She said from her point of view there was no need for the public to be concerned. "The hospital is very safe."

It was also important to point out that Nelson Hospital had a very low rate of hospital-acquired infections, she said.

The hand hygiene performance rates are measured through the total number of hand hygiene moments observed during a specified monitoring period, the total number of appropriately performed hand hygiene moments and the corresponding rates of compliance.

This first full audit would provide a base line for the next one, which was due to happen around March next year, Ms Exton said.

There was an e-learning package available to staff and so far about 760 had completed it.

The Marlborough Express