Importance Of Hand Hygiene On Health Care Environment

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Importance of Hand Hygiene to Patient Safety in the Health Care Environment
Sarah Eatmon
Baker University School of Nursing

Importance of Hand Hygiene to Patient Safety in the Health Care Environment
Hospital acquired infections (HAI’s) affect over 1.7 million patients each year, causing almost 100,000 deaths annually, in the United States (Johnson, 2010). According to the World Health Organization, HAI’s are the most frequent adverse event in the healthcare industry. Fortunately, most of these infections can be prevented with one single health care measure- proper hand hygiene (World Health Organization, n.d.). Proper hand hygiene improves outcomes, lowers inpatient days, and lowers health care related expenses for patients.
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(Pfefferkorn, 2013). In addition to refining these traditional strategies, new and innovative approaches are now being looked at in an attempt to further increase the use of proper hand hygiene (American Society of Registered Nurses, 2012).

Main Body
An article in the 1932 American Journal of Nursing states, “It has long been an established fact that one of the most dangerous agents in the transfer of bacteria is the human hand with its five fingers” (Pfefferkorn, 2013). Even the teachings of Florence Nightingale extoled the benefits of handwashing, and warned of the dangers to patient health when proper hand hygiene was not practiced (Hannon & Lankford, 2014). We now know that four out of five pathogens that cause illness are spread by direct contact, and that proper hand hygiene eliminates these pathogens and helps to prevent hospital acquired infections (Linton, 2015; University of Michigan Health System, n.d.).
Research shows that hospital acquired infections increase inpatient days, contribute to more incidences of long-term disability, and increase the resistance of microbes to antimicrobials In addition, longer inpatient stays increase health care related expenses, which contributes to higher insurance rates. Most importantly, hospital acquired infections increase mortality rates. Hand hygiene is the
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