Improving hand hygiene at eight hospitals in the United States by targeting specific causes of noncompliance.
Although appropriate handwashing has been identified as an essential factor in preventing health care–associated infections, hand hygiene rates remain unacceptably low at many hospitals. This quality improvement project aimed to achieve adherence to hand hygiene practices at eight hospitals using change management methods drawn from human factors engineering. Each hospital investigated and identified specific causes of noncompliance with handwashing and developed specific interventions to address these barriers. These individualized efforts yielded a significant improvement in handwashing behavior. The authors argue that allowing each site to tailor the intervention to the specific causes of noncompliance led to the sustained improvements. This study suggests that local improvement may be a fruitful method to enhance the proven but incompletely implemented practice of hand hygiene. A recent AHRQ WebM&M interview and perspective discuss ways to enhance hand hygiene adherence.