In support of their hand hygiene compliance strategy, the Infection Control team at Penn State Hershey Medical Center created this clip which demonstrates how easy it is for healthcare workers to spread bacteria and viruses among other healthcare workers, patients, and the patient care environment.

The truth is we are not “unknowingly” spreading microbes; we all know they exist and how easily they travel. But the constant practice of washing or sanitizing hands before/after patient contact (and before/after contact with any surface in the healthcare center environment) happens on national average only 50% of the time (for the USA). This means that in the US, healthcare workers need to wash/sanitizer their hands twice as frequently as they usually do in the patient care setting. Similar results have been demonstrated in many other countries.

Patient Empowerment is part of a strategy to address those moments when healthcare workers forget to wash. When patients either remind (or thank) their healthcare worker to wash before touching them, the patient is simply serving as a partner in their healthcare experience.

The work of Penn State Hershey Medical Center colleagues Julian, Subramanian, Brumbach, Whitener, and the Infection Control team suggest that posters in patient rooms (that encourage patients to remind about hand hygiene) have minimal impact on increasing hand washing compliance. The effort needs to go beyond posters.

Thankfully, their work also suggests that healthcare workers are open to the patient reminder tactic. So healthcare worker education and training that encourages them to instruct patients in the reminder process, allows for more opportunities to partner with patients in providing the safest care. This video is one example of healthcare worker training.

As the conclusion of the video implies…. “Your Patients Thank You”!

Source: Julian, Kathleen G. MD, Subramanian, Kavitha MD, Brumbach, Arlene MS, CIC, Whitener, Cynthia J. MD, Attitudes of Healthcare Workers and Patients Toward Individualized Hand Hygiene Reminders. (Letter to Ed) Infect Control Hosp Epidemiol. 2008 Aug;29(8):781-2.

For questions or comments, e-mail Dr. Kathleen Julian at [email protected]

Video proudly posted with the McGuckin Methods International collection on YouTube per request.