Hand hygiene in hospitals has a huge impact on health, and strategic hand sanitizer dispenser placement has the power to make all the difference.
Hand hygiene in hospitals has more of an impact on health than the majority of people who enter hospitals understand.
Hospitals already face reimbursement deductions when a patient needs treatment as a result of a disease acquired during their stay, but as value-based care takes over, keeping patients healthy and employees working at their optimal efficiency will become an essential focus for professional facility managers and hospital leadership.
Here’s what you need to know about the impact of hand washing on hospital function and the importance of strategic dispenser placement.
Hand Hygiene in Hospitals Matters
Handwashing can save lives. This is tacitly understood by most healthcare staff, but patients and visitors likely don’t understand why hand hygiene in hospitals matters at the level it does.
The CDC describes handwashing as a “do-it-yourself vaccine” and touts the use of proper handwashing (wetting, lathering, scrubbing, rinsing and drying) as effective in reducing the spread of diseases. The agency is still careful to point out that, while alcohol-based hand sanitizers are capable of quickly reducing microbe populations in some situations, these same sanitizers do not address all types of germs, nor do they remove potentially harmful chemicals, such as pesticides or heavy metals.
That said, hand sanitizer can still be incredibly effective in adding an extra level of protection and helping to maintain a safe hospital environment. While the CDC reports that hospital-related staph infections are dropping, there are still threats from multiple sources. This means that, even in the case of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, keeping other bacterial threats in check can be a first line of defense against more serious risks. This is where strategic dispenser placement comes in.
Studies have found that optimizing the placement of dispensers can increase use by more than 50 percent. At the same time, it’s been noted that simply increasing dispenser count has a smaller impact than making smart use of existing dispensers and making them easily, visibly detectable.
If you are looking to maximize use, here are a few strategic areas you should focus on:
- Hospital Entrances: Most visitors are not considering hand hygiene when entering a facility, but prominently visible dispensers and even signage can be powerful in communicating the importance of hand hygiene in hospitals. Make sure the entrance dispenser is clearly visible and information around hand hygiene is specifically directed at visitors.
- Semi-Private Rooms: Since semi-private rooms house more than one patient and an increased number of visitors and staff, these rooms should have more than one dispenser to encourage convenience. Keep them in the same position in each room and preferably near sinks and the entrance. Also consider positioning dispensers near patients to help make caregivers’ work more efficient and more hygienic through the entire interaction.
- Private Rooms: As in other situations, these dispensers should be highly visible and focused around the areas of the room where care is most frequently performed. Keep them in walking routes and away from obstructed areas (e.g. behind doors, hidden by lamps or televisions, etc.)
- Nurse Station: Nurses do an incredible amount of walking and don’t need to lose productivity because of inconvenience. Keep dispensers readily available in the areas they frequent most. The nurse station should be an area of particular focus where multiple dispensers are available and easily accessible. This should include the station entrance and along walking routes.
If there is any doubt if your dispenser plan is working, talk with your employees and find out if they are ever frustrated in trying to find hand dispensers. Even small, informal questioning can go a long way in improving hand hygiene in hospitals, so keep up-to-date on your hand sanitizer dispenser options.