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World Hand Hygiene Day - 5 May

5 May 2014 | Infection Prevention & Control

Are you ready to prevent the spread of antimicrobial resistant germs?

Support the World Health Organization’s global 5 May ‘call to action’ and highlight the important role that hand hygiene plays in preventing the spread of antimicrobial resistant germs.

No action today; no cure tomorrow – make sure the WHO 5 Moments are part of protecting your patients from resistant germs.

For more information about World Hand Hygiene Day, how you can be involved, what resources are available, visit the Hand Hygiene New Zealand website.

Clean hands combat drug resistant germs

Resistance to antibiotics is rapidly increasing worldwide and good hand hygiene practice by healthcare workers plays a vital role in reducing its spread.

Today marks World Hand Hygiene Day and Hand Hygiene New Zealand has joined the World Health Organization’s (WHO) call to combat the spread of antibiotic resistant infections through good hand hygiene practice in healthcare settings.

“Good hand hygiene helps to create a protective ‘fire break’ around hospitalised patients, making them less likely to acquire antibiotic resistant infections,” says Dr Joshua Freeman, Clinical Lead of the Hand Hygiene New Zealand programme, a Health Quality & Safety Commission initiative.

“Healthcare associated infections caused by antibiotic resistant microorganisms, such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus [MRSA], have worse outcomes than infections caused by organisms that are less resistant,” he says.

“This can often mean serious adverse consequences for the patient, including more prolonged hospital stays and a greater risk of death,” he explains.

What makes this all the more concerning is that the number of new antibiotics under development is decreasing at the same time. This makes it even more critical for district health boards (DHBs) and healthcare workers to focus on measures to prevent healthcare associated infections from occurring in the first place.

“The good news is that reducing the spread of resistant organisms through good hand hygiene practice is not only necessary, but highly achievable,” says Dr Freeman.

Latest DHB national hand hygiene performance results are testament to this. The national average for 1 November 2013 to 31 March 2014 measurement period is 72.6 per cent, up from 66.6 per cent this time last year. New Zealand uses one of the strictest and most rigorous approaches to measuring hand hygiene performance, so rates of over 70 per cent compare favourably with performance in other countries.

“DHBs and healthcare workers throughout the country are working extremely hard to improve their hand hygiene performance and deserve to be congratulated on their efforts,” says Dr Freeman.

“It is clear that the improvements are real and changes in practice are becoming consolidated and more deeply embedded.

“By adopting the World Health Organization’s five moments for hand hygiene, which we know sets an extremely high standard of hand hygiene practice, DHBs are actively helping to combat the spread of antibiotic resistance,” adds Dr Freeman.

The World Health Organization’s 5 moments for hand hygiene approach requires hand hygiene to be performed at the following times, irrespective of whether or not gloves are used:

  • before patient contact
  • before a procedure
  • after a procedure or body fluid exposure risk
  • after patient contact
  • after contact with patient surroundings.

Last updated 15/03/2016