BOSTON - Patients at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) are being told to "Go Ahead and Ask," whether their doctor or nurse has washed their hands before conducting an exam.
Using brochures, buttons, room placards and other materials, medical personnel are encouraging patients and family members to ask physicians, nurses and other staff, "Have you cleaned your hands?" The question is encouraged each time a health care worker is about to make contact with the patient or touch items involved in care. The program is designed to help reduce the incidence of infection and to raise awareness of good hygiene not only among staff, but among the patients and family members. "Good hand hygiene is the single most important step health care providers can take to prevent the spread of infection," said Sharon Wright, MD, MPH, BIDMC's director of infection control/hospital epidemiology unit. "Nationwide, 2.5 million patients develop infections annually. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recently reported that 30,000 deaths in the U.S. were directly caused by infections. An additional 70,000 patients had infections that contributed to their deaths. The inclusion of hand hygiene in several governmental and clinical organization guidelines is further testament to the critical nature of this infection-control activity."
Patient-driven hand hygiene programs has been shown to increase hand hygiene performance by at least 34 percent, was developed at the University of Pennsylvania and is recognized by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) as a technique to increase hand hygiene and is referenced in the 2002 CDC Guideline for Hand Hygiene as a "proven method for increased hand hygiene."
A nurse will review the brochure with a patient after admission, stressing the importance of hand hygiene and encouraging the patient to read the materials. Data will be collected to provide an analysis on how the program is working and allow a comparison of BIDMC's hand hygiene performance with other institutions.
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center is a patient care, teaching and research affiliate of Harvard Medical School, and ranks fourth in National Institutes of Health funding among independent hospitals nationwide. BIDMC is clinically affiliated with the Joslin Diabetes Center and is a research partner of Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center. BIDMC is the official hospital of the Boston Red Sox.