SMHS Hand Hygiene

Good hand hygiene (washing or decontaminating hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub) is an important part of good patient care. Read consumer information about good hand hygiene practices (Healthy WA).

Hand Hygiene Australia (HHA) (external site) describes improving hand hygiene among healthcare workers as the single most effective intervention in reducing healthcare-associated infections (HAI) in Australian hospitals. The aim is for healthcare workers to perform hand hygiene correctly at every opportunity, for example, before and after touching a patient.

In 2008/09 the National Hand Hygiene Initiative (NHHI) was implemented to develop a national approach to improving hand hygiene and monitor its effectiveness. Although not nationally comparable, hand hygiene information helps to drive quality improvement in hospitals.

The 5 moments of hand hygiene

Hand hygiene is measured by observing a specified number of ‘moments’ before and while caring for patients:

  • Moment 1: Before touching a patient
  • Moment 2: Before a procedure
  • Moment 3: After a procedure or body fluid exposure risk
  • Moment 4: After touching a patient
  • Moment 5: After touching a patient’s surroundings.

Read more about the 5 moments of hand hygiene (external site).

Measuring hand hygiene

The estimated hand hygiene rate for a hospital is a measure of how often hand hygiene is correctly performed (as a percentage). It is calculated by dividing the number of observed hand hygiene ‘moments’ where proper hand hygiene was practised in a specified audit period, by the total number of observed hand hygiene ‘moments’ in the same audit period and multiplying by 100. The rate is rounded to one decimal place.

Hand hygiene data is provided by State and Territory health services for public hospitals and by individual private hospitals. The data is derived from audits of hand hygiene ‘moments’ conducted up to 3 times per year through the National Hand Hygiene Initiative. Audits are performed by individuals who have undergone HHA auditor training.

Benchmark rates

The Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care recommends a benchmark hand hygiene rate of 70 per cent.

To improve patient care and reduce preventable healthcare-associated infections, SMHS and other WA Health Service Providers implemented an increased benchmark of:

  • 75 per cent in 2015/16
  • 80 per cent in 2016/17.
See how we measure up

The table below shows hand hygiene compliance for each of the SMHS hospitals:

  • FHHS – Fremantle Hospital and Health Service
  • FSH – Fiona Stanley Hospital
  • RkPG – Rockingham Peel Group
  • PHC – Peel Health Campus

Bar charts and other graphs are used to display data.  When comparing data it is important to exercise caution, as hospital activity varies between sites.

Figure 1: SMHS Hand Hygiene rates (%) by site – Audit 2, 2017 (April – June 2017)

All SMHS hospital sites are continuing to achieve greater than 80 per cent hand hygiene compliance, that is, they meet or exceed the WA and national benchmarks.

What do these figures show?
  • The graph shows the hand hygiene compliance rate of SMHS hospital sites in the audit period 2 2017 (April – June 2017).
  • All SMHS hospital sites are continuing to achieve greater than 80 per cent hand hygiene compliance, that is, they meet or exceed the WA and national benchmarks.
Produced by

South Metropolitan Health Service