Communicate your way to clean hands

Communicate Your Way to Clean Hands


By Tricia Swartz and Jason Thompson, Canadian Patient Safety Institute

Canadian Patient Safety Institute

Hand Hygiene is pretty simple. In fact, it’s so simple it’s taught to us as children.

In healthcare settings, hand hygiene tends to get a little more difficult, and unfortunately, as we all know, there can be real human consequences when not done effectively.

There is no doubt that healthcare providers are busy people juggling many competing priorities as they care for large numbers of patients per shift. This can make it easy to let hand hygiene practices slip. Effective hand hygiene isn’t just about cleaning your hands; it’s about cleaning your hands at the right moment . . . or four moments to be exact.

This is where the patient comes in. Patient-centered care is a priority for many frontline care providers, practitioners and organizations. Every day we are seeing patients and their families who are more informed and involved in their care than ever before. So, why not consider involving the patient and family in our quest for improved hand hygiene compliance?

This year, the theme for Canadian Patient Safety Week is: good communication is good for your health. We want patients and their families to be able to talk openly with their providers and feel comfortable being part of the care team. Ideally, we want patients to ask, “Did you clean your hands?”

Providers need to take the first step in making this partnership and open communication happen. They need to follow good hand hygiene practices and they need to be open to being asked if they’ve cleaned their hands. The patient may be one of the best tools in helping remind us the importance of hand hygiene.

This Canadian Patient Safety Week, take a moment to reflect on your practice. Ask yourself, do you encourage input from your patients? Are you open to feedback that will help you provide safe and effective care? Perhaps, this is your opportunity to make change happen one conversation at a time. We believe that real change can happen when people communicate.

Learn more about hand hygiene, effective communication and Canadian Patient Safety Week at www.patientsafetyinstitute.ca.

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