Good infection prevention and control a priority

8 Aug 2011 | Infection Prevention & Control

Commission Chair, Professor Alan Merry, says that having clean hands is an essential part of ensuring patient safety and quality outcomes.

“The health sector has made good progress in this area, and the Commission aims to embed these improvements, and make good hand hygiene ‘business as usual’.

“Hand washing is not the only way to prevent infection – we also need to make sure people receive the right antibiotics, the health environment itself is clean, and sterile conditions are maintained when we do procedures – but hand hygiene is a very important part of providing safe health care.”

Preventing and controlling infection is considered so important internationally that the World Health Organization (WHO) has developed initiatives focusing on improving hand hygiene.

WHO says millions of patients around the world are affected by infections acquired in health care settings.  These infections contribute to patients’ deaths and disability, promote resistance to antibiotics, complicate the delivery of patient care, and impose extra costs on health systems.

WHO has identified 5 key moments when health workers should perform hand hygiene:

  1. before patient contact
  2. before a procedure
  3. after a procedure or body fluid exposure
  4. after patient contact
  5. after contact with patient surroundings

“Having clean hands sounds like such a simple thing to do but we know that there’s room for improvement, and the Commission is actively working with district health boards on this,” says Professor Merry.

See the article on hand hygiene in the NZ Herald

Last updated 11/01/2012