Patient empowerment is a new concept in health care that has now been extended to the domain of patient safety. Within the framework of the development of the new World Health Organization (WHO) Guidelines on Hand Hygiene in Health Care, the authors conducted a review of the literature from 1997 to 2008 to identify the evidence supporting programs aimed at encouraging patients to take an active role in their care. Patient empowerment is an integral part of the WHO hand hygiene multimodal strategy. Hand hygiene promotion strategies that have demonstrated evidence of successfully empowering patients include one or all of the following components: educational tools, motivation and reminder tools, and role modeling. What is important is that programs and models to empower patients must be developed with an inbuilt evaluation component that includes both qualitative and quantitative measures to determine not only what works but under what conditions and within which organizational context.