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Ideas That Work
Campaign for Hand Hygiene
OSD Staff
Publish Date: August 7, 2008   |  Tags:   Ideas That Work

Create a Catchy Hand Hygiene Campaign
Change staff behavior by reinforcing your message to them.
My staff washed their hands about 45 percent of the time before entering an OR and about 70 percent afterward. I wanted to find new ways to make this a top issue in their minds, so I started thinking about how our sales reps constantly reinforce their messages to us. To make us think about their products, they use marketing programs that change, but maintain a consistent message. They also distribute novelty items to develop a sense of reciprocity, hoping that by giving something to us we'll do something for them. With those strategies in mind, I developed some educational campaigns with themes and catchy slogans. Here are some of the ones that have worked well for us:

  • Partners in Hand Hygiene. This focused on patient education. We distributed bottles with a novelty bug attached to it, along with a brochure on hand hygiene, to our staff and our patients.
  • Bug Beat FIESTA (Fight Infection — Everyone Should Take Action). We held an education fair with exhibit displays that showed how each staff member was a part of the infection control program.
  • Cruise on the LUAU (Let Us Always Use...Good Hand Hygiene). We decorated the cafeteria to look like a cruise ship, complete with a captain greeting the staff and visitors at the entrance with automatic alcohol rub dispensers.

At each of these events, we held raffles and other small games that staff members could enter by signing a pledge to keep their hands clean. If they won, they received a small novelty prize that fit with the event's theme.

Since we gave something away at each of these events, whether it was a prize or just a bottle of alcohol rub, our staff and patients felt somewhat obliged to do something for us. In this case, all they had to do was wash their hands more often.

Maureen Spencer, RN, MEd, CIC
Infection Control Manager
New England Baptist Hospital
Boston, Mass.
[email protected]

Make Pre-surgical Visits Easier on Patients
Pre-registration visits can sometimes inconvenience patients. Our urban center attracts many patients from the rural outlying communities surrounding the city. Some out-of-town patients have to drive three to four hours to get here, and it's clear that an otherwise healthy 26-year-old scheduled to have his knee scoped who drives all that way just to hear us go over his chart and read him the pre-surgical instructions isn't going to be a happy patient.

So we make sure that the patients' referring physicians give them our telephone number along with the pre-surgical instructions and direct them to call us two weeks to two days before their scheduled procedures. When patients call, they talk with someone in the front office who reviews their medical and testing history as well as insurance and billing information. If there are any red flags or missing lab work or test results, we can schedule them to come in for pre-registration testing or, if they choose, direct them to a lab, clinic or practice in their community that can deliver the test results. If they don't call in, we reach out to them the day before surgery and instruct them to carry out one of the above options or plan on arriving a half hour earlier than they were originally scheduled to.

Director of Surgical Services
Providence Surgery Center
Missoula, Mont.
[email protected]

A Timeout Kazoo Will Get Everyone's Attention
All surgeries start with a safety timeout, but how many timeouts start with a blast from a kazoo? I sometimes use the simple instrument to notify staff that it's time for the pre-procedure pause. Believe me, it works.

When the surgical timeout first became a requirement, our OR teams were already confirming the patient's identity and the surgical site, but not as a surgical team process. During those days (and even now), it was sometimes difficult to get everyone's attention during the busy few minutes before a procedure. On a whim I bought a kazoo with the aim of getting the surgical team into timeout attention. It worked — and thoroughly entertained the nurses, techs and (some of the) surgeons. Now that staff are more aware of the surgical timeout and the importance of stopping their talking and focusing on the task at hand, I don't sound the kazoo before every case. But it still sits in my locker, just in case.

Barbara Harvey, RN
OR Circulator
Fredericksburg ASC
Fredericksburg, Va.
[email protected]