Objective: To evaluate the effectiveness of a positive deviance strategy for the improvement of hand hygiene compliance in 2 adult step-down units.
Design: A 9-month, controlled trial comparing the effect of positive deviance on compliance with hand hygiene.
Setting: Two 20-bed step-down units at a tertiary care private hospital.
Methods: The first phase of our study was a 3-month baseline period (from April to June 2008) in which hand hygiene episodes were counted by use of electronic handwashing counters. From July to September 2008 (ie, the second phase), a positive deviance strategy was implemented in the east unit; the west unit was the control unit. During the period from October to December 2008 (ie, the third phase), positive deviance was applied in both units.
Results: During the first phase, there was no statistically significant difference between the 2 step-down units in the number of episodes of hand hygiene per 1,000 patient-days or in the incidence density of healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) per 1,000 patient-days. During the second phase, there were 62,000 hand hygiene episodes per 1,000 patient-days in the east unit and 33,570 hand hygiene episodes per 1,000 patient-days in the west unit (P < .01 ). The incidence density of HAIs per 1,000 patient-days was 6.5 in the east unit and 12.7 in the west unit (p = .04). During the third phase, there was no statistically significant difference in hand hygiene episodes per 1,000 patient-days (P = .16) or in incidence density of HAIs per 1,000 patient-days.
Conclusion: A positive deviance strategy yielded a significant improvement in hand hygiene, which was associated with a decrease in the overall incidence of HAIs.