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Improving hand hygiene in intensive care units

19 July 2016

With healthcare-associated infections affecting, on average, 5% of hospitalised patients in Ireland [i], a new HRB-funded project at NUI Galway is to provide theoretically valid and practical tools and ways for improving hand hygiene compliance in Irish Intensive Care Units.

Although hand hygiene is known to be the key to preventing hospital acquired infections such as MRSA, compliance with good hygiene practices remains low, leading to a national and international focus to improve it.

According to Graham Love, Chief Executive at the Health Research Board, 

"This research has real potential to positively impact hand hygiene practice and patient outcomes, both nationally and internationally."

Explaining the project, Dr Paul O Connor, Principal Investigator says, “International bodies have made recommendations for how to improve hand hygiene practices, but there are serious weaknesses in the research evidence to guide the implementation of these interventions. As a result, infection control practices are not based on sound scientific knowledge, may be of limited effectiveness, and resources are not being used efficiently." 

“Although the hand hygiene procedure itself is simple, the behaviour related to hand hygiene is complex and is not readily understood, explained, or changed,”continues Dr O’Connor. 

“We want to explore all the factors at play in the ICU setting, by involving all key stakeholders such as patients, nurses, doctors, healthcare providers and regulators. Collaboratively, we will identify the barriers for effective hand hygiene to ensure that limited resources are being used effectively. The goal is provide direction on ‘how’ standards of hand hygiene can be achieved rather than only defining ‘what’ standards must be achieved.”

Find out more on the NUI Galway website at the link below

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