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Med J Aust. 2009 Oct 19;191(S8):S8-S12.

A statewide approach to systematising hand hygiene behaviour in hospitals: clean hands save lives, part I.

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Clinical Excellence Commission, Sydney, NSW, Australia.



To describe the planning and execution of a statewide campaign aimed at improving compliance with hand hygiene practices in New South Wales public hospitals.


The campaign was conducted in all area health services (AHSs) in NSW (covering 208 public hospitals) between February 2006 and February 2007. Clinical practice improvement methods and campaign strategies were used to improve the availability and use of alcohol-based hand rub (AHR) at the point of patient care, using staff champions and local leaders, engaging patients and families, and measuring compliance. Staff were given regular feedback on their performance. Project officers funded by the Clinical Excellence Commission (CEC) provided local project management support and implemented the campaign in a standardised format orchestrated by the CEC.


Proportion of available beds with secured and unsecured AHR containers nearby; amount of AHR used (based on purchasing patterns).


Hospital visits before the campaign identified a lack of appropriately placed AHR at the point of care. The number of AHR containers per available bed in near-patient locations increased to 13 280/18 951 (70%) after the campaign. The quantity of AHR purchased per month across NSW public hospitals increased from 1477 L to 5568 L (a 377% increase).


The CEC was successful in systematising the placement of AHR in all NSW public hospitals at the point of patient care. Although the use of AHR increased substantially, some staff were resistant to changing their hand hygiene practices.

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