Trillium Health Partners sees reduction in C.difficile rates with patient hand washing

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Wash your hands before you eat. The simple, sage advice your mother taught you as a child is having a significant impact on hand hygiene at Trillium Health Partners in an effort to combat the spread of infectious diseases such as Clostridium difficile (C.difficile) among patients.

C.difficile, bacteria that causes mild to severe diarrhea and intestinal conditions is the most frequent cause of infectious diarrhea in Canadian hospitals. In the interest of improving patient care and safety, hospitals are constantly looking for ways to prevent the spread of the bacteria.

The Corporate Services team at Trillium Health Partners worked closely with the Infection Prevention and Control (IPAC) staff to come up with the idea to promote patient hand washing before each meal. The idea came to them while brainstorming ways to curb the spread of hospital infections like C. difficile within the hospital. Despite the cleanliness of the facilities and the diligence of the staff when it came to good hand hygiene, patients were still coming into contact with the bacteria. The answer lay in the patients’ hands.

“The C.difficile bacteria have to be ingested,” said Pam Siddall, IPAC Manager. “It just made sense to us that if we work in partnership with the Environmental and Food Services teams to promote good hand hygiene before every meal that it could really make a difference for our patients.”

Every day staff offer patients the use of a Wet Ones towelette or a packaged wipe prior to giving them their meal. The use of this towelette or wipe helps rid patients’ hands of bacteria before they eat.

Corporate Services was pleasantly surprised with the compliance of the hand washing program amongst patients. “Patients appreciate it,” said Ingrid McKee, Manager, Environmental Services. “Some of our patients are unable to get out of bed and clean their hands before a meal. This program is adding to their quality of care by enabling them to do that simple but important task before they eat.”

Trillium Health Partners has seen some incredibly positive results since first implementing the program. There has been a significant decrease in the hospital’s C.difficile Infection (CDI) rate, as well as a dramatic increase in patient hand hygiene compliance as a result of adding this hand washing step. This simple solution is helping to ensure the increased safety of Trillium Health Partners’ patients.

“This is an extremely important program,” said Marianita Lampitoc, Manager, IPAC. “We are committed to providing our patients with the best possible care and we believe that this program is part of achieving that goal.”

The hand washing program has not only had an impact on patient care and C. difficile rates, it has also had an effect on Environmental Service and Food Service staff. “Our staff understand the importance of this initiative, not only in helping to reduce C. difficile rates but also in improving health outcomes and the overall patient experience,” said Carol Steffler, Resource and Nutrition Service Manager.