International Infection Prevention Week and Point of Care Hand Hygiene

International Infection Prevention Week and Point of Care Hand Hygiene

Jane Kirk


By Jane Kirk MSN RN CIC

Former Clinical Director Healthcare, GOJO Industries

The week of October 20-26, 2013, is designated as International Infection Prevention Week (IIPW), which commemorates the importance of infection prevention around the globe. IIPW provides a focal point for Infection Preventionists, healthcare personnel, consumers, organizations and industry partners to shine a light on infection prevention and its importance in healthcare settings.

The cornerstone of any infection prevention is hand hygiene. One method of hand hygiene that begs consideration is Point of Care hand hygiene. Point of Care hand hygiene as defined by the World Health Organization is “the place where three elements come together: the patient, the healthcare worker and care or treatment involving contact with the patient or his/her surroundings (within the patient zone)."1 The concept embraces the need to perform hand hygiene at recommended moments exactly where care delivery takes place. This requires that a hand hygiene product (e.g alcohol-based hand rub, if available) be easily accessible and as close as possible – within arm’s reach of where patient care or treatment is taking place. Point of Care products should be accessible without having to leave the patient zone.

Think about a patient in a hospital bed. On the way into the room, the nurse stops and cleans her hands, then proceeds to the bedside and puts the bedrail down. The patient needs his central line dressing changed. In order for the nurse to be compliant with hand hygiene, she would need to put the bedrail back up (the patient is sedated) and walk away from the bed to the nearest hand hygiene dispenser. With Point of Care hand hygiene, the products are within reach, and the patient’s safety is not compromised.

Tools Available

To celebrate IIPW, the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC) created the “Infection Prevention and You” campaign with a new website (www.apic.org/infectionpreventionandyou) and resources for both patients and healthcare professionals. The campaign features a one-page infographic illustrating the steps patients can take to support infection prevention efforts in healthcare facilities and help lower their risk of infection. The infographic communicates three main points: what patients and families can do to play an active role in their care, what healthcare-associated infections are, and who is the infection preventionist.

GOJO is sponsoring a Point of Care webinar for healthcare professionals at the American Journal of Infection Control Hand Hygiene Library (http://handhygiene.ajicjournal.org/) and providing complimentary hand hygiene infection prevention webinars, whitepapers and educational tools on its website at healthcare.gojo.com/education.

During International Infection Prevention Week,  let us all spend a little time reflecting how we might make hand hygiene compliance easier for the front line caregiver and ultimately a better outcome for the patients.

1 World Health Organization. (2009) WHO Guidelines on Hand Hygiene in Health Care WHO Press, Geneva, Switzerland

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