One in four Marlborough hospital staff aren’t washing their hands enough

One in four Marlborough hospital staff aren’t washing their hands enough – 28th September, 2016

Doctor and nurses are still not washing their hands often enough, according to a recent report.

Hand hygiene at the Nelson Marlborough District Health Board dropped 6 per cent in the past six months, with only 75 per cent of staff reaching compliance.

Only two other DHBs ranked lower for the period, South Canterbury and Hauora Tairawhiti in Gisborne.

The findings of the Quality and Safety Governance Summary Report were presented at a board meeting in Blenheim on Tuesday.

Board chairwoman Jenny Black said hand hygiene was an ongoing problem, especially with doctors.

“The doctors aren’t performing well with their hand hygiene,” Black said.

The board had been struggling with the issue for a “very long time”.

“It’s quite a hard one to deal with,” she said.

Board chief medical officer Dr Nick Baker said the World Health Organisation’s requirements were a difficult threshold to meet.

“If you wash your hands at four opportunities but miss the fifth, your score is a fail, so it’s a pretty high bar.

“If we get 75 per cent all pass, that’s actually pretty good, but there’s definitely room for improvement.”

In the assessment, DHB staff across the country were monitored randomly without their knowledge.

Care staff were most likely to fail to wash their hands after touching a patient’s surrounds, such as curtains or a side table, the national audit report found.

New Zealand used one of the strictest and most rigorous approaches to measuring hand hygiene performance.

While the national target of 80 per cent was not met, other countries considered 70 per cent compliance good, according to the report.

The Health Quality and Safety Commission New Zealand was encouraging staff to come up with solutions to improve hand hygiene compliance for their unique work area, using the ‘frontline ownership’ method.

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