986. What do they think about us? Patient perception of physician hand hygiene
Session: Poster Abstract Session: Hand Hygiene 2012
Friday, October 19, 2012
Room: SDCC Poster Hall F-H
Background: Healthcare providers practice proper hand hygiene (HH) only 40% when necessary despite HH being one of the most effective means to prevent healthcare acquired infections (HAI). Patient participation in improving HH compliance is an underexplored area of infection control. This study examined patients’ perception of physicians’ HH and barriers to patients’ involvement in improving HH compliance.

Methods: We surveyed 250 medical and surgical patients at a single academic medical center from June -November 2011. We used frequencies and scales to display the data. Logistic regression determined predictors of a patient remaining quiet after observing a healthcare provider not practicing hand hygiene when necessary.  

Results: 31.8% of patients didn’t observe their physician clean hands before touching them.  Of these, 58% did not say anything to the physician. Reasons for silence included not wanting to seem impolite/disrespectful, 32.6%; feeling embarrassed/awkward, 30.6%; not thinking it was the patient’s role, 8.3%; fearing reprisal, 4.9%; believing physicians can be trusted, 3.5%; other 20.1%. Odds of remaining quiet after observing physician noncompliance were increased if a patient hadn’t worked in healthcare (OR 2.58, 95% CI 1.40-4.76), was white (2.38, 1.11-5.10), didn’t think patients should remind physicians to clean their hands (5.20, 2.26-11.96), or didn’t observe a physician clean hands (2.33, 1.25-4.33). A “specific reminder” increased patient comfort approaching the physician (P <0.001). Compared with receiving information on HAIs, patients would be more comfortable discussing hand hygiene if the physician wore a button or light that indicated they did not clean their hands (6.8% v. 93.2%). 84% thought physicians should get reports on how often they clean their hands.

Conclusion: Many patients observe physicians not washing their hands but do not speak with their physician about noncompliance. Factors associated with lack of communication include unfamiliarity with healthcare, white race, not thinking patients should remind physicians to clean hands, and not observing cleaning hands. Patients would be very likely to speak with physicians about HH if physicians wore an indicator of compliance with hand hygiene. Most patients think physicians should receive reports on how often they clean their hands.

Jason Sanders, PhD, Kaarin Michaelson, PhD, Shanta Zimmer, MD and Gregory Bump, MD, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pittsburgh, PA


J. Sanders, None

K. Michaelson, None

S. Zimmer, None

G. Bump, None

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