Good hand hygiene can save lives - SDHB

Last updated 05:00 05/05/2014
carole heatly
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HOW YOU DO IT: Southern District Health Board chief executive Carole Heatly demonstrates correct hand-washing procedure as part of a campaign to highlight the role of hand hygiene in combating antimicrobial resistance.

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Washing your hands properly not only supports good health and reduces the spread of infection, it can ultimately save lives, the Southern District Health Board says.

The health board will start its campaign to highlight the role of hand hygiene in combating antimicrobial resistance today as part of the World Health Organisation global hand hygiene campaign.

Patient Services medical director Richard Bunton said the campaign would also inform staff about the increasing threat of resistance to antimicrobial agents, increasing at an alarming rate worldwide.

"Many resistant organisms are spread in hospitals on the hands of healthcare workers and, at the same time, those resistance levels are increasing globally. As healthcare-associated infections become more difficult to treat, the stakes of infections occurring become higher," he said.

"That's why it's so important that the DHB is keeping a strong focus on reminding its staff to always implement the five moments of hand hygiene, every day, every single time they come into contact with a patient and their surrounds."

All 4500 health board staff will be involved this week, helping patients stay safer.

Special displays reminding staff that it "takes just five moments to change the world" will be posted around health board buildings.

Infection prevention and control staff will inform staff and patients about the importance of implementing the five steps of hand hygiene. The focus is the latest in a series of initiatives the health board has been delivering to help improve hand hygiene performance throughout its hospital sites.

Since June 2009, staff have been working to help improve hand hygiene compliance, which resulted in a 71.6 per cent compliance at the end of March - more than the national target of 70 per cent.

A health board spokeswoman said it was the board's goal to build and improve on the compliance rate.

During the past few months, more staff had "put their hands up" to champion the importance of hand hygiene.

Registered intensive care unit nurse Elly Campbell has been promoting good hand hygiene practice, including instigating additional gel pump bottles at each bed space in the unit to improve staff compliance. Southern DHB registered nurse Jessica Sanford said Campbell demonstrated a great passion, resilience, motivation and confidence that was appreciated and recognised by all staff.

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- Fairfax Media

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