Nosocomial infections are a major health problem for hospitalized patients and their families. Since the 1800s, hand hygiene has been recognized as the single best method to prevent the spread of pathogens and nosocomial infections. Despite this fact, many healthcare workers do not adhere to hand hygiene policies. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a guideline for hand hygiene practices in 2002. Multifaceted approaches to improve hand hygiene have been shown to increase compliance among healthcare workers and subsequently reduce infections. A performance improvement project was initiated to implement this guideline and other strategies to prevent nosocomial infection. This article summarizes the performance improvement processes and the preliminary outcomes on adherence to infection prevention policies related to hand hygiene and isolation practices. Clinically and statistically significant increases were noted for hand hygiene prior to patient care and in wearing masks when indicated. Nurses and patient care technicians had the greatest increases in compliance. Increases in hand hygiene after patient contact and wearing of gown and gloves were also noted, but results were not statistically significant. Nosocomial infection rates from antibiotic-resistant organisms decreased in the first surveillance, but rates increased during the 1-year surveillance. Consumption of alcohol-based foam disinfectant doubled from baseline. Findings are consistent with other published studies. The project will continue with further reinforcement and education over the second year.

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