Preventing the spread of infection through good hand hygiene

HHNZ-logo.pngAn infection spread by unclean hands can have a devastating impact on a patient and their family/whānau.

This makes it vitally important for health care workers to practice good hand hygiene. In fact, good hand hygiene is one of the simplest, most effective ways to prevent the spread of healthcare associated infections, which makes it a key patient safety priority.

Since 2012, district health boards (DHBs) throughout New Zealand have participated in a national quality improvement programme to improve hand hygiene practice.

The Hand Hygiene New Zealand (HHNZ) programme uses the World Health Organization’s (WHO) ‘5 moments for hand hygiene’ framework to drive culture change and establish best hand hygiene practice for every patient, every time.

The HHNZ programme is one of two current programmes that are part of the Commission’s infection prevention and control programme. These targeted improvement initiatives aim to reduce the harm and cost of healthcare associated infections within New Zealand’s health and disability sector.

Over the past six years, hospital health care staff have worked hard to make significant strides in hand hygiene performance. Currently, the national hand hygiene compliance target for DHBs is set at 80 percent. During the latest hand hygiene reporting period DHBs achieved a national compliance rate of 85.3 percent (31 March 2018).

Spreading hand hygiene improvement hospital-wide

IPC banner image hands June 2018As the hand hygiene programme has become established in New Zealand hospitals, it has increasingly focused on the importance of spreading auditing and improvement activities across the whole organisation. This approach will help to embed strong hand hygiene practices within hospitals.

High-risk areas where patients are more vulnerable to infection will continue to be a priority and maintaining the achievements in these areas will continue to be central to the programme. Spreading auditing and improvement activities will ensure more patients gain from improved hand hygiene compliance.

Critical to the success of this strategy is frontline ownership – empowering frontline staff to implement and drive change within their own clinical areas to support improvement.

This section of the Commission’s website provides guidance, resources, and quality improvement frameworks to support your organisation to make positive, sustainable change to hand hygiene practice.

It is also the gateway to the hand hygiene auditor training platform and the hand hygiene auditing application (HHCApp).

If you have any questions about the HHNZ programme please contact us via

Last updated 14/06/2018