Hand Hygiene Compliance (HHC)

Hand hygiene is an important practice for health care providers and has a significant impact on reducing the spread of infections in hospitals. Hand hygiene is a different way of thinking about safety and patient care and involves everyone in the hospital, including patients and health care providers.

Effective hand hygiene practices in hospitals play a key role in improving patient and provider safety, and in preventing the spread of infections.

To be clear, health care providers are washing their hands, and it is a practice that continues to improve as we learn more about hand hygiene best practices.

Both hospitals and the government have done considerable amounts of work to improve the access and process challenges that once made hand washing in hospitals less expedient. For example, where sinks used to be located inconveniently throughout hospitals, there is now fast and easy access to alcohol-based hand rubs at patients' bedsides. The MOHLTC's provincial hand hygiene campaign, Just Clean Your Hands, which all Ontario hospitals have participated in, was designed in a way that helps hospitals and individuals overcome barriers to proper hand hygiene and to improve compliance with hand hygiene best practices.

What is being publicly reported

Commencing April 30th, 2009, hospitals will be required to report hand hygiene compliance rates of Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care. A provincial audit tool has been provided to hospitals as part of the Just Clean Your Hands program. This audit tool captures data on the four essential indicators for when hand hygiene should be performed. Compliance rates will be publicly reported on:

  • Before Initial Patient/Patient Environment Contact
  • After Patient/Patient Environment Contact
  • Hospitals will be required to submit data on the four indications for hand hygiene; however the MOHLTC will not publicly report data on "before aseptic procedures" and "after body fluid exposure risk" as it is difficult for some hospitals to obtain a large enough sample size for these indications.

Hospitals are required to post, by site, the percent compliance rates for before after patient/patient environment contact for each period end date on their corporate websites.

Auditors trained using the provincial audit tool and training program has been conducting direct observations of hand hygiene practices in hospitals using the audit tool.