doctor holding pump dispenser of antibacterial handwash

Shriners Hospitals for Children — Chicago has launched a new way of getting healthcare staff to keep their hands clean.

According to reports from DailyNurse, the hospital implemented a program called “High Five” for Hand Hygiene. If a staff member was observed not to have cleaned their hands when they should have, another staff will give them a cue and say, “High Five,” indicating they need to clean their hands, but not embarrassing them in front of patients.

Staff are expected to clean their hands when entering the patients’ rooms and upon exiting…and also in the room if needed. The hospital uses secret observers who document their observations and turn them in to infection prevention supervisors on a quarterly basis.

During Infection Prevention Week, the hospital deputized patients with badges and asked them to be the Hand Hygiene Police. They received hand clappers and on one side I wrote “Please wash” and on the other side “Thank you for cleaning your hands.” Patients were asked to clap the clappers, and let staff know they were being thanked for cleaning their hands or to remind them to wash their hands.

The initiative is part of a goal to reduce the number of hospital-acquired infections (HAIs). According to reports, HAIs affect as many as 722,000 patients in acute care hospitals, and cause about 75,000 deaths, annually. Clean hands is the first line of defense against the spread of germs.

To help hospital staff comply with proper hand hygiene, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides guidelines specific for healthcare settings. The CDC recommends:
• When cleaning hands with soap and water, wet hands first with water, apply the amount of product recommended by the manufacturer to hands, and rub hands together vigorously for at least 15-20 seconds, covering all surfaces of the hands and fingers.
• Rinse hands with water and use disposable towels to dry. Use towel to turn off the faucet.
• Avoid using hot water, to prevent drying of skin.