Nearly half of health care professionals around the world fail to comply with the World Health Organization (WHO)'s Moment 1: Before Touching a Patient hand-hygiene initiative, according to a global WHO survey. The hand-hygiene initiative is 1 of 5 measures, or "moments," of Save Lives: Clean Your Hands (SLCYH), a global campaign launched by the WHO's Clean Care is Safer Care program in an effort to promote sustained hand-hygiene improvement by registering medical facilities and providing guidance.

In the first global survey on hand-hygiene compliance before patient contact, WHO collected data from 327 health care facilities, representing 47 countries and 1527 hospital wards. The analysis showed that compliance with Moment 1 hand-hygiene in 76,803 hand-hygiene opportunities was just 51.4% (weighted mean adjusted by number of opportunities per facility).

Of those that were compliant, the hand-hygiene actions involved hand-rubbing in 60.7% of cases, hand-washing in 37.6% of cases, and both methods in 1.7% of cases.

The survey recommended that healthcare facilities collect approximately 50 hand-hygiene opportunities in selected wards or departments. Moment 1 hand-hygiene compliance was highest in European countries (64% of 22,278 opportunities) and lowest in the Americas (26% of 23,183 opportunities). Nurses showed much better compliance (64%) than physicians (48%).

Surprisingly, higher levels of hand-hygiene compliance were seen in ambulatory (72%), medical (60%), and intensive care (59%) departments; the lowest was seen in obstetrics departments (37%).

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