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To evaluate hand hygiene compliance in 2 adult step-down units (SDUs).
A 6-month (from March to September 2007), controlled trial comparing 2 SDUs, one with a feedback intervention program (ie, the intervention unit) and one without (ie, the control unit).
Two 20-bed SDUs at a tertiary care private hospital.
Hand hygiene episodes were measured by electronic recording devices and periodic observational surveys. In the intervention unit, feedback was provided by the SDU nurse manager, who explained twice a week to the healthcare workers the goals and targets for the process measures.
A total of 117,579 hand hygiene episodes were recorded in the intervention unit, and a total of 110,718 were recorded in the control unit (P = .63). There was no significant difference in the amount of chlorhexidine used in the intervention and control units (34.0 vs 26.7 L per 1,000 patient-days; P = .36) or the amount of alcohol gel used (72.5 vs 70.7 L per 1,000 patient-days; P = .93). However, in both units, healthcare workers used alcohol gel more frequently than chlorhexidine (143.2 vs 60.7 L per 1,000 patient-days; P < .001). Nosocomial infection rates in the intervention and control units, respectively, were as follows: for bloodstream infection, 3.5 and 0.79 infections per 1,000 catheter-days (P = .18); for urinary tract infection, 15.8 and 15.7 infections per 1,000 catheter-days (P = .99); and for tracheostomy-associated pneumonia, 10.7 and 5.1 infections per 1,000 device-days (P = . 13). There were no cases of infection with vancomycin-resistant enterococci and only a single case of infection with methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (in the control unit).
The feedback intervention regarding hand hygiene had no significant effect on the rate of compliance. Other measures must be used to increase and sustain the rate of hand hygiene compliance.
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