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INF ECTION P R EVENTION


Higher hygiene standards for infection control


As the pandemic first established its foothold within the UK, hospitals faced new challenges and uncertainties – from concerns around the precautions staff should take and the availability of PPE, to questions around transmission and how hospitals could handle a surge in cases. Ellie Wishart and George Olden reflect on the challenges, lessons learned and effective strategies for raising standards in infection prevention.


As the UK saw cases of coronavirus rise, many hospital wards were temporarily converted to solely treat COVID-19 patients. This step proved wise and helpful to create a barrier between infected patients and those admitted for other health concerns. As early diagnosis tools were developed and facilities became more familiar with the virus, hospitalisations successfully decreased. However, with the infectious disease still spreading, hospitals are in need of efficient programmes and solutions to control the flow of workers and patients to avoid outbreaks. From implementing rigorous hand hygiene standards to adopting state-of-the-art bio- decontamination technology, hospitals have brought infection control and prevention to new heights.


Reducing infections with improved hand hygiene Driving improvement in hand hygiene compliance requires a combination of solutions, including training, providing the right products in the right places and investing in innovation to improve behaviours. Ecolab has been implementing programmes


at hospitals across Europe and seeing drastic improvement, achieving over 90% compliance. Training and continuously raising awareness are key.


Compliance with hand hygiene in healthcare is often used as an indicator of performance for infection prevention but


Eliminating SARS-CoV-2 from surfaces in the ward is extremely important in order to prevent further infections. With the high transmission rate of SARS-CoV-2 and its ability to survive on surfaces for days, it is essential that any cleaning process used is able to fully eliminate surface contamination.


JANUARY 2021


achieving high rates is much more difficult in reality. A systematic review1


of 96 studies


of hand hygiene compliance identified an average rate of approximatively 40%. In the ICU, which has the highest levels of activity, and therefore opportunities for hand hygiene, compliance is reported as 30-40%, when compared to other areas of the hospital, where rates of 50-60% are reported. Other key findings from the review provide some explanation as to how well healthcare staff perform hand hygiene during patient care activities, as rates are much lower before (21%) rather than after (47%) patient contact. This indicates that there is a greater perceived risk to the healthcare worker after patient contact and, therefore, a tendency to protect themselves from that risk. The World Health Organization promotes hand hygiene through a multimodal improvement strategy2


which includes: WWW.CLINICALSERVICESJOURNAL.COM l 45





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