Background: Prevention of health care-associated infections starts with scrupulous hand hygiene (HH). Improving HH compliance is a major target for the World Health Organization Patient Safety Challenge and is one of The Joint Commission's National Patient Safety Goals. Yet, adherence to HH protocols is generally poor for health care professionals, despite interventions designed to improve compliance. At Tufts Medical Center (Boston), HH compliance rates were consistently low despite the presence of a traditional HH campaign that used communication and education.
Methods: A comprehensive program incorporated strong commitment by hospital leadership-who were actively involved in responsibilities previously only performed by infection preventionists and quality and patient safety staff-dedication of financial resources, including securing a grant; collaborating with a private advertising firm in a marketing campaign; and employing a multifaceted approach to education, observation, and feedback.
Results: This campaign resulted in a rapid and sustained improvement in HH compliance: Compared with the mean HH compliance rate for the six months before the campaign (72%), postcampaign HH compliance (mean = 94%) was significantly greater (p < .0001). Factors contributing to the success of the campaign included the development of the marketing campaign to fit this academic medical center's particular culture, strong support from the medical center leadership, a multifaceted educational approach, and monthly feedback on HH compliance.
Conclusions: A comprehensive campaign resulted in rapid and sustained improvement in HH compliance at an academic medical center after traditional communication and education strategies failed to improve HH performance.