Simple solutions for a complex problem

Adventist GlenOaks Hospital used a simple solution for the complex problem of patient safety – hand washing. Since 2006, GlenOaks has drastically reduced hospital-acquired infections by embracing industry best practices, including hand washing, hospital officials told the Glendale Heights Press. In 2009, the hospital reported zero cases of dangerous central line-associated blood stream infections, according to the new edition of the Illinois Hospital Report Card and Consumer Guide to Health Care.

According to the Glendale Heights Press, the hospital recently launched a computer-based exam on hand-washing.

Regardless of whether they come into contact with patients in the normal course of their jobs, all hospital employees are required to pass the test as part of a patient safety initiative. So far, the cardiac testing, intensive care unit, medical records, pharmacy and security departments are among the many departments already reporting 100 percent compliance.


Sometimes it’s the little things that can make a big impact. Susan D. DeVore, president and CEO of the Premier healthcare alliance, wrote in JHC’s March digital issue that patients themselves can play a key role in reducing hospital infections. She says the CDC released a patient education video last year that teaches patients, family and visitors to request that healthcare professionals wash their hands with soap and water or use alcohol-based hand rubs before and after touching patients.

Did it work? Yes, according to research conducted by CDC, the Premier healthcare alliance and the Catholic Healthcare Partners, and facilities that agreed to show the video. Twice as many patients who saw the video were willing to remind caregivers to wash their hands than those who didn’t. In one case, a hospital visitor got so engaged that she chased a doctor who had forgotten to disinfect his hands down the hall to remind him. These findings suggest an important role for patients as advocates for the safety and effectiveness of their care – an oft-forgotten audience that government solutions rarely address.


To read DeVore’s article, visit

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