News | June 17, 2008

Medline Launches Hand Hygiene Compliance Program for Healthcare Facilities

June 18, 2008 - In an effort to spark a change in healthcare professional hand hygiene practices, Medline Industries Inc. launched its Hand Hygiene Compliance Program (HHCP) to hospitals and healthcare facilities at the 35th Annual Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology Educational Conference in Denver.

"Most healthcare-associated infection (HAI) is spread by direct contact, especially via the hands of health workers, and data continues to support hand hygiene as the single most important way of reducing such infections," said Infection Prevention Advisory Board member Linda S. Johnson, MS N, RN, CIC, infection control manager for the University of Missouri. "This program will be an important part of a healthcare provider's strategy to improve patient outcomes and reduce hospital costs related to HAI."

As the number one defense against healthcare-acquired conditions, it is estimated hand washing alone could prevent 20,000 patient deaths per year. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are more than 2 million HAIs annually in the U.S., resulting in an estimated $30.5 billion in additional healthcare costs and more than 100,000 inpatient deaths. The federal Medicare program recently announced that beginning in October 2008 it will no longer reimburse for extra costs associated with certain types of HAIs acquired while the patient was receiving care, giving hospitals and healthcare facilities even more incentive to implement prevention measures such as hand hygiene compliance.

Studies have shown, however, that despite being a proven effective practice, hand hygiene compliance among healthcare workers is poor, with the World Health Organization reporting an average compliance rate of 40 percent. Skin irritation and dryness caused by frequent hand washing with soap and water, as well as inadequate understanding of hand hygiene guidelines or protocols, is the most often cited reasons for noncompliance. Medline said its HHCP addresses these issues by combining its best-in-class products for improving skin condition and clinician-reviewed education to improve hand hygiene compliance while dramatically improving the skin condition of healthcare workers.

The regular use of products that help prevent skin irritation appreciably increases compliance to hand hygiene standards, which in turn contributes to lowering the nosocomial infection rate, the company said. All three Medline products in its HHCP product bundle are clinically proven to nourish dry skin, including Sterillium Comfort Gel hand antiseptic with moisturizing technology, which delivers an alcohol level of 85 percent. Medline Remedy Products are moisturizers, cleansers, protectants and antifungals that all contain Olivamine, a blend of ingredients that deliver essential nutrients necessary for optimal skin health, including amino acids, vitamins, antioxidants and MSM. AloeTouch Exam Gloves are available in latex, vinyl, and nitrile, which all contain a special polymer inner coating that softens skin with freeze-dried aloe vera.

In addition to the product bundle, the HHCP includes an intensive educational module developed by an expert panel of infection control professionals.
"The training is particularly useful because it focuses on translating research into practical guidance and tips for clinicians," said Elaine Larson, RN, Ph.D, currently the associate dean for research and professor of pharmaceutical and therapeutic research at Columbia University School of Nursing, and editor of the American Journal of Infection Control.

Healthcare workers can earn up to four continuing education credits by completing the training program. Additional components include testing for skill and competency validation through the use of Visirub and a UV light box. Patient education pamphlets, facility posters and a rewards program are also included to reinforce positive behavior change.

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