Hygiene refers to practices associated with ensuring good health and cleanliness. In medical contexts, the term “hygiene” refers to the maintenance of health and healthy living. The benefits of practicing hygiene in medical clinics and hospitals are well understood today. In spite of this many healthcare institutes still lack basic hygiene practices, leading to high mortality rates.
Hundreds of millions of patients are affected by health care-associated infections worldwide each year, leading to significant mortality and financial losses for health systems. As per WHO report, of every 100 hospitalized patients at any given time, 7 in developed and 10 in developing countries will acquire at least one health care-associated infection.
Healthcare associated infections may be caused due to inadequate environmental hygienic conditions and waste disposal, poor knowledge and application of basic infection control measures, lack of procedures and absence of local and national guidelines and policies, etc.
Many infection prevention and control measures, such as appropriate hand hygiene and the correct application of basic precautions during invasive procedures, are simple and low-cost, but require staff accountability and behavioral change.
The main solutions and perspectives for improvement are:
-Ensuring that core components for infection control are in place at the health-care setting levels.
-Implementing standard precautions, particularly best hand hygiene practices at the bedside.
-Improving staff education and accountability.
-Strict hospital infection control procedures and policies.
One of the prime obstacles which the healthcare industry is facing right now, which is not that relevant in other sectors, is the ambiguity in maintenance of clean environment and the resulting vagueness in determining end results. Transmission of microorganisms from the environment to patients may happen through direct contact with contaminated equipment, or indirectly as a result of touching by hands. Enough has been written and said on hygiene aspects, right from the days of shift of black stained doctor coats to white coats, and importance of sterilization.
Systematic and sustained improvement in clinical quality in particular needs a briefer and equally important trajectory. Over the past fifty years, a variety of approaches have been tried, with fewer successes. The work process is determined by various benchmarking factors, which measures facilities and provides benchmarks, along with quality enhancement process to ensure improvement in performance. There have been cases where progressive healthcare institutions have applied world-class hygiene standards, not only to reduce the patient stay at the hospital but also to leverage on treating more patients and in turn having more realization per day by treating the root cause and avoiding the hassle of acquired infection.
To ensure quality standards and work efficiency, it is absolutely essential to design a set of guidelines, which decides the workflow of the organization. Visual standard operating procedures (SOPs) can help in determining the step-by-step routine actions of key staff members. SOPs present clear procedures, roles, and responsibilities for the healthcare providers in primary, secondary and tertiary level healthcare facilities.
Most prevalent quality improvement tools such as problem solving methodology and Six Sigma (SS) claim to provide health care managers the opportunity to improve health care quality on the basis of definite and specific methodology and data. However, it is necessary to implement this quality improvement tool correctly and improves health care quality. There are significant gaps in the health care quality improvement literature and very weak evidence that quality improvement tools are being used correctly to improve health care quality.
Hygiene and cleanliness are important in many areas, but are perhaps most pertinent in the healthcare industry. Places such as hospitals and clinics are constantly under public inspection and risk losing everything if they are unsuccessful to pass regular checks from the relevant authorities. There are not many other industries in which the standard of cleanliness is judged to be an integral part of the experience, but in healthcare a major portion of repeat business relies on the fulfillment of these hygiene and safety standards.
Hence, maintaining healthcare hygiene is everybody’s business!
Written by: Faber Jalay Pandya
Faber Jalay Pandya is Director and one of the founding partners of Faber Infinite Consulting (www.faberinfinite.com), with operations in Asia Pacific, Africa & Middle East. He holds a masters degree in Marketing Management with his 1st degree being in Engineering.
This article was originally published on Economic Times – ETHealthworld.com. Original link available – here.