Hand Hygiene Q&As

Headwaters Health Care Centre reminds patients and visitors of the importance of frequent hand hygiene. Use soap and water or the foam hand sanitizer available in patient rooms and in common areas of the hospital.
Keeping your hands clean is the best way to prevent the spread of bacteria, viruses and other disease-causing microbes.
Click on the link to view proper hand hygiene technique for hand sanitizer PDF and hand washing PDF.
Health Care Professionals and Hand Hygiene
Health care providers are committed to hand hygiene and understand the importance of washing their hands regularly and at any point of contact with a patient. It is a practice that continues to improve as we learn more about hand hygiene best practices.

Both hospitals and the government have done considerable amounts of work to improve the access and process challenges that once made hand washing in hospitals less expedient. For example, where sinks used to be located inconveniently throughout hospitals, there is now fast and easy access to alcohol-based hand rubs at patients’ bedsides. The Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care's (MOHLTC) provincial hand hygiene campaign, Just Clean Your Hands, which all Ontario hospitals have participated in, was designed in a way that helps hospitals and individuals overcome barriers to proper hand hygiene and to improve compliance with hand hygiene best practices.

Is it true that hospital staff aren’t washing their hands because they are too busy and over-worked?
No, this is not the case. The MOHLTC's provincial hand hygiene campaign, Just Clean Your Hands, was designed to help hospitals and individuals overcome the barriers to proper hand hygiene and to improve compliance with hand hygiene best practices.

The Just Clean Your Hands program recognizes that health care providers are busy and require immediate access to hand hygiene products at the right time in the patient care process. The program supports having alcohol-based hand rub at the point of care to address this barrier and to make it easier and faster for health care providers to clean their hands. This type of system support is critical to sustaining improved hand hygiene compliance.

Why do you think the mandatory public reporting of hand hygiene compliance will affect current compliance rates?
There are many factors that will lead to improved hand hygiene compliance. Mandatory public reporting is one element. Certainly, increasing recent attention on the issue, as well as the MOHLTC’s multifaceted hand hygiene program, Just Clean Your Hands, has reinforced the importance of improving hand hygiene among health care professionals.

Why is hand hygiene so important?
As the single most effective way to reduce the spread of infections, hand hygiene is an important practice for health care providers and patients alike.

Effective hand hygiene practices in hospitals plays a key role in improving patient and provider safety. It is a different way of thinking about safety and patient care and involves everyone in the hospital, including patients and health care providers.

What steps has your hospital taken to improve hand hygiene compliance?
Headwaters Health Care Centre is participating in the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care's infection prevention and control education program and we have implemented the provincial Just Clean Your Hands campaign. Staff have also attended education sessions held by the Ontario Hospital Association on a variety of infection prevention and control topics.Locally, Headwaters also collaborates with the Public Health Unit and Regional Infection Control Network (RICN).

How do we know that a hospital is safe?
Patient safety is a number one priority for all Ontario hospitals. There are numerous checks and balances in place to ensure the safety of public hospitals. Ontario’s hospitals operate in one of the most demanding health care accountability systems in all of Canada and maintain openness, accountability, and transparency through agencies like Accreditation Canada and initiatives such as Hospital Service Accountability Agreements (HSAAs), past participation in Hospital Report and now – the public reporting of patient safety indicators.

What exactly is being publicly reported?
Commencing April 30th, 2009, hospitals will be required to report hand hygiene compliance rates to Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care. A provincial audit tool has been provided to hospitals as part of the Just Clean Your Hands program. This audit tool captures data on the four essential indicators for when hand hygiene should be performed. Compliance rates will be publicly reported on:

i. Before Initial Patient/Patient Environment Contact
ii. After Patient/Patient Environment Contact

How frequently will you be reporting the hand hygiene audit information?
Hand hygiene compliance rates will for posted for the public on an annual basis, and is also posted monthly within the hospital for patients and visitors to keep aprised of our current compliance rates.