Handwashing following patient contact reduces the incidence of nosocomial infections. Despite this, handwashing rates by health care workers (HCWs) are often poor. Feedback on handwashing has been shown to significantly improve its rates. This study determined the optimum time to repeat performance feedback on handwashing rates of hospital staff in order to maximise its incidence. The baseline incidence of handwashing by staff following patient contact was determined by covert observation. This was followed by a period of feedback on handwashing performance by means of histograms displayed in the unit. Handwashing incidence was reassessed 6 and 12 months after the feedback ended. Performance feedback induced significant increases in handwashing incidence amongst nurses (p=0.0433), resident medical officers (p=0.0134), specialists (p=0.0021) and radiographers (p=0.0001). Non-significant increases were noted in handwashing rates amongst wardsmen/women and physiotherapists. Overall, handwashing incidence declined significantly (p=0.0001) 12 months post feedback. This study demonstrated that feedback should be repeated within 12 months in order to maximise handwashing rates with the minimum intervention.
Post-print of van de Mortel, TF, Bourke, R, Fillipi, L, McLoughlin, J, Molihan, C, Nonu, M & Reis, M 2000, 'Maximising handwashing rates in the critical care unit through yearly performance feedback', Australian Critical Care, vol. 13, no. 3, pp. 91-95.
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Publisher's version of article available at http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S1036-7314(00)70630-8