"The Ronan Report" provides insight about the activities at the Western Maryland Health System in Cumberland, Maryland, and about the changes taking place in healthcare today from a CEO's perspective.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Hand Washing

Recently there was an article in the NY Times by Tina Rosenberg on hand-washing in hospitals.  What caught my eye was the statement that "it is rare to find a hospital that has been able to keep the hand-washing rate above 50%".  Fifty percent, are you kidding me? 

At WMHS, we strive to have staff wash their hands at every possible juncture when caring for and treating our patients.  Staff are cleaning their hands from dozens to hundreds of times per day.  Our overall rate hovers around 80% and we are striving to do better month after month.   Through monitoring, we track and share performance data each month.  Not perfect, but there are limitations in all of the approaches.  We have found that our monitors take their role seriously and do a very good job of reporting compliance. 

This is an area that, as CEO, I have to play a very active role.  Infections kill patients and one very effective way to protect our patients is through hand-washing.  So, if you wash your hands, you are stopping the spread of infection through the quickest route to a patient and others.  It's a great start--not only in the hospital, but in your personal life. 

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