Hand Hygiene Policy Directive
PDF 485 KB
Hands are the main pathways of germ transmission during health care and in the community.
Effective hand hygiene is considered to be one of the most important and simple measures available in preventing the spread of healthcare associated infections. It is also a key behaviour to prevent transmission of COVID-19 and so this year, more than ever, effective hand hygiene is critical, for staff and the community.
The most common complication affecting patients in hospital is healthcare associated infections, with over 160,000 reported cases in Australian acute healthcare facilities each year.
Studies show that effective hand decontamination can significantly reduce the rate of healthcare associated infection.
World Hand Hygiene Day, 5 May, is part of a major global effort led by the World Health Organization (WHO) and supported by SA Health annually. This day aims to support health-care workers to improve hand hygiene in health care and accordingly support the prevention of often life threatening healthcare associated infection (HAI).
The 2021 World Health Organisation's campaign message is "Seconds Save Lives, clean your hands!"
As part of the World Health Organisation's First Global Patient Safety Challenge, the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care (ACSQHC) established the National Hand Hygiene Initiative (NHHI). Compliance with hand hygiene according to the WHO '5 moments' is recorded by specially trained and validated auditors. Hospitals are required to submit data three times per year according to the NHHI schedule. The number of 'moments' required to be audited is proportional to the size of the hospital.
In South Australia, hand hygiene compliance is a key performance indicator of patient safety and quality of health care delivery. SA Health has provided several resources to assist healthcare facilities to implement the NHHI program. Healthcare facilities can contribute hand hygiene data to national and local audits.
For more information refer to the ACSQHC NHHI Website.
The SA Health Hand Hygiene Policy directive (PDF 299KB) establishes a uniform approach to hand hygiene across the public health sector. The associated SA Health Hand Hygiene Guideline (PDF 223KB) summarises best practice for healthcare workers in the clinical setting.
Facilities not meeting the requirements for national data submission may choose to utilise the SA Health observational audit tool (PDF 196KB), to estimate overall hand hygiene compliance and is in keeping with the 5 Moments for hand hygiene.
Compliance rates of hand hygiene are checked annually across SA Health. Here is how we all measured up:
NHHI audit tools are available via the National Hand Hygiene Initiative audit tool page, including:
A SA Health hand hygiene competency tool (PDF 87KB) has been developed to assess staff competency in carrying out an effective hand hygiene rub or wash.
Health-care facilities can track their progress in hand hygiene resources, promotion, activities, plan their actions and aim for improvement and sustainability through the use of the following resources:
Since the 1 November 2019, the ACSQHC has managed the NHHI program, including education packages, resources and the national database of hand hygiene compliance audit results. Included is a suite of eLearning modules to provide information on the principles of infection prevention and control in the Australian healthcare setting. Many of these modules add value to those involved in aged care, the community more generally, or workforce groups, such as beauticians.
The Basics of Infection Prevention and Control is suitable for all health care workers and health care students and may also be suitable for other industries where infection prevention and control is important. This module provides a basic orientation and foundation on which to build your infection prevention and control knowledge.
Infection prevention courses are available to all SA Health employees to support the National Safety and Quality Health Service Standards. There are currently three infection prevention related courses available to staff:
For further information, visit the Infection control education and training page.
The following fact sheets have general information on the use and selection of alcohol-based hand rub products and the appropriate use of gloves in health care.
Click on the below images to download the relevant poster.