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Anthony Cirillo

Hand Hygiene Deficiencies Linked to Staffing Levels

By January 2, 2013

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A spike in the number of hand hygiene deficiencies noted in nursing homes is linked to inadequate staffing levels.

Between 2000 and 2002, nursing home inspectors issued hand hygiene deficiencies in fewer than 7.4% of facilities, but that number jumped to 12% by 2009. The study's lead author, Nicholas Castle, Ph.D., said a couple of factors account for this increase. Nursing homes with proportionately fewer RNs, LPNs and aides had significantly more deficiencies than facilities with more staff. Facilities in states with lower Medicaid reimbursement rates also are significantly more likely to have hand-washing lapses.

Castle told the New York Times that nursing home inspectors are becoming increasingly aggressive about looking for lapses in hand hygiene protocol and reporting it.

Make hygiene and infection control fun and it will reinforce the messages you want to convey and help staff to develop lasting habits. One hospital in N.C. has won awards for its hand hygiene program. Novant Health feels so strongly about hand hygiene and improving the quality and safety of patient care, it makes its resources available free of charge to other organizations. Find easily downloadable marketing materials at their site.

And as they correctly state - "Keep in mind that results can be achieved only by changing the culture of your organization and making people accountable for their behavior. It starts at the top and requires everyone's support

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