Groups tackle hand-washing compliance rates

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted Oct. 2, 2006

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Seven major infection-control and quality-improvement organizations have launched an 18-month project to determine how best to measure hand-hygiene compliance in hospitals. Though hand-washing rates in hospitals are pegged at 50%, getting an exact handle on how often physicians and other health professionals follow recommendations is difficult, according to Elaine Larson, RN, PhD, scientific adviser for the project and associate dean for research at the Columbia University School of Nursing in New York.

"I have been studying hand hygiene for years, but we still do not have an ideal way to measure adherence," Dr. Larson said in a statement. That lack of a precisely accurate picture has impeded efforts to improve compliance rates and determine which interventions are most effective, according to the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations and six other groups participating in the project.

Among the barriers to accurately measuring hand hygiene, experts say, is the difficulty of tracking the behavior of many different physicians and health professionals over a meaningful period of time.

Note: This item originally appeared at

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