Improving Hand Hygiene & Reducing HAIs for Veteran Patients

How a Southeast VA Medical Center leveraged technology to reduce Hospital-Acquired Infection (HAI) rates.

Kayla Jacque, Client Success Manager

Nosocomial Infections, also known as Hospital-Acquired Infections or Healthcare-Associated Infections, are classified as any infection acquired while in a healthcare facility.1 These infections are acquired by millions of people while receiving care, treatment, and services in a healthcare setting each year. Consequently, Healthcare-Associated Infections (HAIs) are a patient safety issue affecting all types of organizations. Effective in January 2024, The Joint Commission outlined three new performance goals to address hospital-acquired infection rates and promote compliance with hand hygiene measures for both patients and their providers. The new goals include:

  1. Implement a program that adheres to CDC hand hygiene guidelines,
  2. Set goals for improving compliance with hand hygiene guidelines, and 
  3. Improve compliance with hand hygiene based on established goals.2

With these new metrics in mind, one Southeast Veterans Affairs Medical Center chose to leverage an already existing resource on the Get Well platform. The infection control team was able to simultaneously educate their patients and collect data to identify where continuing education was necessary for staff conducting routine bedside care on the different units. 

The team created a new prompt called a Hand Hygiene Question of the Day (QoD). The following prompt was shown to patients on a recurring basis: “When entering your room, did the healthcare worker (Doctor, Nurse, Other) wash their hands with soap and water or use the hand sanitizer?”. In one month, over 500 patients responded “Yes” to the care team washing their hands, with 10% answering adversely. Using this data, the infection control team was able to revisit their training program for new and existing employees, with a focus on the units that were falling out of compliance with the aforementioned Joint Commission guidelines.

This very simple change to their system unearthed an opportunity for a new training protocol, and the infection control team was armed with more information for their daily rounds. Over the course of 9 months, the team’s data revealed impressive outcomes from their practices. Since the start of the project, the Southeast VA Medical Center has seen a 63% reduction in HAIs. Meanwhile, another peer VA Medical Center — who went live with this same project in August — observed a 43% reduction in HAIs. 

Get Well is proud to enable the continuous delivery and improvement of quality care for Veteran patients with our VA Medical Center partners.

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