Spotlight on hand hygiene to prevent the spread of disease-causing viruses and bacteria
Netcare puts its full weight behind global World Hand Hygiene Day initiatives
Netcare facilities around the country have put their full weight behind the World Health Organization’s (WHO) 2016 international hand hygiene campaign.
Netcare hospitals, Medicross family medical and dental centres, Prime Cure clinics, Netcare 911 bases and National Renal Care (NRC) dialysis units around South Africa, as well as Netcare head office are participating in the WHO’s SAVE LIVES: Clean Your Hands campaign to mark World Hand Hygiene Day today, 5 May 2016. .
“Netcare’s commitment to infection prevention and control, of which hand hygiene forms an integral part, is a year-round focus, but World Hand Hygiene Day presents an ideal opportunity to renew our pledge while bolstering awareness among staff, patients and the general public about the importance of clean hands in preventing the spread of disease-causing viruses and bacteria,” says Netcare’s director of quality leadership, Dr Dena van den Bergh.
The Netcare hand hygiene programme incorporates behavioural and care-oriented activities as well as science-based, measurement-driven undertakings.
The WHO campaign highlights five crucial moments for hand disinfection: (1) before touching a patient, (2) before clean/aseptic procedures, (3) after body fluid exposure or risk of exposure, (4) after touching a patient, and (5) after touching a patient’s surroundings.
“These hand hygiene tenets are the most basic infection control measures that should be standard in any healthcare setting. As part of our innovation in the science of hand hygiene standards, we will be rolling out the Netcare ‘Safe Hands’ measurement mobile application within Netcare hospitals to coincide with World Hand Hygiene Day. The app, which has already been piloted in six hospitals, aims to streamline data capturing of hand hygiene observations and record this information in a repository to provide hand hygiene compliance data in real time, at ward level, hospital level and across the entire group.
“Selected staff members, including unit managers, nursing services managers, infection prevention practitioners, clinical pharmacists and a number of nurses, have been trained in the use of this app, so that they can record observed hand hygiene practices within wards/facilities and record compliance based on the WHO’s five moments of hand hygiene,” Dr Van den Bergh explains.
“Once the observations are recorded on the app, the hospital management is able to obtain a real time report to provide feedback to frontline healthcare teams and to drive improvement.”
The theme for this year’s WHO hand hygiene campaign is “Safe Surgical Hands”, emphasising the importance of hand cleanliness in every stage of caring for surgical patients. This forms part of the World Hand Hygiene Day’s wider drive to prevent transmission of infectious illnesses, particularly in healthcare settings but also among the general public.
“Hand hygiene is the frontline defence against surgical site infection, as well as representing a pragmatic approach to reducing illness and disease caused by the spread of germs in the community,” Dr Van den Bergh elaborates.
Management and staff members of the various Netcare divisions will join hands with health professionals across the globe to carry forward the important message of hand disinfection, she explains.
“Some of our staff members have gone as far as taking this worthy initiative into the communities where they live, thereby raising awareness of the importance of hand hygiene in preventing the spread of disease at grassroots level. With the winter chill now starting to make its presence felt around our country, it will help to safeguard the health of ordinary South Africans, particularly where seasonal colds and flu are concerned, as everyone benefits when we all practise hand cleanliness in our everyday lives,” Dr Van den Bergh asserts.
Hand hygiene is also a vital element of the Netcare Way, which comprises six behaviours that are tangible expressions of staff members living our group’s values, and which underpin our commitment to treat all of our patients, their families and our colleagues with respect, dignity and care. The pledge “I always practice proper hand hygiene – to show my care” has been wholeheartedly adopted by management and staff members throughout the Netcare group.
Our facilities and emergency medical services regard World Hand Hygiene Day as an ideal opportunity to also support the behavioural and care component of our overall programme.
“With the worldwide increase in infections in healthcare settings, there is no place for complacency when it comes to infection prevention and control, and we therefore embrace this opportunity to reaffirm our commitment to practising hand hygiene at all times when caring for our patients,” Dr Van den Bergh concludes.