Commission celebrates infection prevention work in International Infection Prevention Week

17 Oct 2016 | Infection Prevention & Control

The Health Quality & Safety Commission says the New Zealand health sector has made significant improvements in patient safety as International Infection Prevention Week begins.

The Commission has largely focused on two areas in infection prevention; hand hygiene and surgical site infection improvement (SSII), through the infection prevention and control programme.

The Hand Hygiene New Zealand (HHNZ) programme ensures health professionals follow appropriate hand hygiene guidelines to keep themselves and their patients safe while in hospital. The SSII Programme guides health professionals on ways to reduce surgical site infections.

The results of the April to June 2016 auditing period showed a nationally aggregated hand hygiene compliance rate of 82.5 percent (53,559 observations), compared to 62 percent in the July–October 2012 period (29,128 observations), the first time auditing was conducted by all 20 district health boards (DHBs).

This has been achieved through the application of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) ‘5 moments for hand hygiene’ in hospitals. The WHO '5 moments' define key times when a health professional needs to ensure their hands are clean when looking after a patient.

All DHBs participate in the programme and increasing national compliance percentage targets have been met every year since their introduction in 2013.

'I’m very pleased with the hard work being carried out to improve hand hygiene in our hospitals,' says Dr Sally Roberts, clinical lead for the Commission’s infection prevention and control programme.

'It is very encouraging to see such a marked improvement in our hand hygiene rates, and a commitment to helping patients be safe while they are in hospital.'

The SSII programme currently has a focus on hip and knee operations and cardiac surgery, with a potential to expand to other areas in the future.

The median number of surgical site infections per 100 of these operations has fallen from 1.3 in the third quarter of 2013 to 0.9 in the first quarter of 2016[1].

The Health Quality & Safety Commission (@HQSCNZ) will be tweeting about work being done in this area during IIPC Week, 17–23 October.

Tell us what you are doing to promote International IPC week or email a picture to

[1] As the Commission uses a 90-day outcome measure for surgical site infection, the data runs one quarter behind other measures. Q1 2016 is the most recent data available.


Last updated 17/10/2016