If every caregiver would reliably practice simple hand hygiene when leaving the bedside of every patient and before touching the next patient, there would be an immediate and profound reduction in the spread of resistant bacteria.

DoctorThe recent widespread deployment of waterless, alcohol-based hand antiseptics has made this task easier even for harried caregivers. Performing hand hygiene with these products kills bacteria (with the exception of Clostridium difficile) very rapidly, takes much less time than traditional hand washing, and is gentler on the hands than the repeated use of soap and water. Yet compliance with hand hygiene remains poor in most institutions, often in the range of 40 to 50 percent.

When a doctor or nurse can reduce the spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria by practicing simple hand hygiene, accountability should matter. True, the hospital and its leaders are accountable for establishing a system in which caregivers have the knowledge, competence, time, and tools to practice perfect hygiene. But each caregiver has the duty to perform hand hygiene…perfectly and every time. When this widely accepted, straightforward standard of care is violated, we cannot continue to blame the system.

Source: Excerpt from the New England Journal of Medicine: Click link >>> NEJM — System Failure versus Personal Accountability — The Case for Clean Hands

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