Hand Hygiene feature image

Hand Hygiene

OHA’s hand hygiene program focuses on improving rates by assessing hospital staff compliance and providing immediate recommendations on how hospitals can improve by redesigning policies and offering more robust education and training opportunities. Over 241,000 observations were completed by the hand hygiene observers in 2021. 

About the Program

Participating hospitals set a goal of reaching 100% compliance. OHA's Hand Hygiene team aims to directly observe hospital caregivers as they enter and exit patient rooms, including physicians, nurses, techs, case managers, nutrition and others. 

The data for these real-time observations is entered electronically onto an electronic application, which was developed by the OHA specifically for this quality-improvement initiative. The data is quickly aggregated for members and allows the hospital to compare its compliance rate with those of other participating hospitals. Individual hospital units or floors receive same-day feedback on staff compliance so effective interventions can quickly be implemented.

Hospital leadership is interviewed prior to the start of ongoing observations, to:

  • Determine the presence of internal hand hygiene observation programs and rates
  • Review existing policies and procedures for alignment with OHA guidelines
  • Provide feedback on baseline rates to leadership, middle management and frontline staff for discussion, education and clinical behavior modification

Participating hospitals collaborate and continuously focus on the issue. Clinical leaders of participating hospitals meet regularly with OHA’s team to review compliance data and share best practices on how to achieve and sustain high compliance rates. Successful interventions include:

  • Additional alcohol hand sanitizer dispensers, located closer to patient rooms
  • Signage for “Wash in/Wash out!” reminders
  • Inter-departmental meetings on expected behaviors
  • Competitions and rewards for best rates/most improved
  • Coaching of associates by leadership
  • Educational videos or employee plays/skits

National Recognition

OHA's hand hygiene program is nationally recognized for improving health outcomes. The American Hospital Association in 2016 presented OHA with the Dick Davidson Quality Milestone Award Honorable Mention recognition.