Know whether you're ready for The Joint Commission's new hygiene standards — 4 indicators

The Joint Commission began issuing citations this year for any failure to comply with hand hygiene protocol. Writing for Infection Control, Clean Hands – Safe Hands founder and CEO Chris Hermann, PhD, highlighted four indicators that an organization is prepared to meet the standards.

1. Hand hygiene performance rates are consistently high, but not suspiciously high.

Direct observation is commonly used to gauge hand hygiene performance, but this method is susceptible to the Hawthorne Effect — clinicians are usually three times more likely to sanitize when they know someone is observing.

2. Observers are discreet.

Clinicians should be observed by truly anonymous individuals who are switched out frequently.

3. A consistently high number of hand hygiene opportunities are captured and reported.

Data captured based on a small sample size is unreliable and won't provide the relevant information needed to affect behavior changes.

4. Healthcare-associated infections have decreased by 45 percent or more.

Hand hygiene is the biggest factor in the spread of healthcare-associated infections. Over 40 peer-reviewed publications have connected hand hygiene to a decrease in healthcare-associated infections, with the median decrease at 45 percent, according to Dr. Hermann.

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