Eye-catching dispensers show increase in hand hygiene compliance
Whether a red stop sign at an intersection, or orange warning vests on construction sites. High-visibility colours lead to increased attention and warn us of dangerous situations. However, the use of stimulating colours should not be limited to traffic signage, as it can offer significant value for the healthcare sector as well.
The disinfecting of hands is – without exception – the most important measure to effectively reduce nosocomial infections and multi-resistant pathogens. Although the importance of hand hygiene has been thoroughly documented, it has been inadequately implemented. Limited availability of dispensing options, the increasing workload of nursing staff, and a lack of awareness of hand hygiene practices, are some of the frequently mentioned factors for poor hand hygiene standards. Scientists have been grappling with this problem for decades, and have begun supporting a multimodal approach in which a host factors are adressed to improve compliance. Among those factors are placement and perception of hand care dispensers.
Hand hygiene: Perception high, infections low
Prof. Dr. med. Simone Scheithauer et al. already investigated in 2013 how the use of dispensing systems in Hi-Vis colours can have a concrete effect on hand hygiene behaviour at an intensive care unit of the RWTH Aachen University Hospital. For this trial, a total of 25 disinfectant dispensers were replaced by dispensers in a striking housing colour – the mode of operation and location remained unchanged. The intervention was successful; adjusting for personnel on the unit, hand hygiene compliance increased by six percent after the introduction of Hi-Vis dispensers.
A study by Christopher Davis from 2010 shows that even a simple measure, such as applying a red adhesive strip with an arrow pointing in the direction of the dispenser, has a positive effect on the frequency of use.
Placement just as important
In addition to high-visibility colours and signage to improve hand hygiene, optical interventions can be supplemented with further measures such as patient-friendly placement of dispensing systems. Benjamin Chan et al. investigated the effect of the number and position of hand disinfectant dispensers mounted in an patient ward. The conclusion: The placement of the dispensers is more important than the number of dispensers, provided a set minimum number of devices is available.
Therefore we must conclude, that higher compliance rates can be achieved through the use of Hi-Vis dispensers that are conveniently located. However, these should be seen as part of a comprehensive package of measures, and supplemented by further components. For example, touch-free dispensers and systems that provide healthcare staff with compliance rate, represent further effective interventions to improve compliance.