Increasing hand hygiene compliance rates among staff — What works and what doesn't

Positive feedback can go a long way in improving hand hygiene compliance among staff members, according to Harvard Business Review.

A 17-bed medical intensive care unit at a northeast hospital set out to discover how to boost hand washing compliance among healthcare workers. The ICU implemented cameras to monitor sinks and assess if staff members complied with hand hygiene protocols. The hospital found 10 percent of workers sanitized their hands before and after entering patient rooms, despite the implemented cameras.

The ICU then employed a different tactic — positive reinforcement. The crew implemented an electronic board in the unit's hallway that provided workers instant feedback. Each time an employee washed their hands, the board relayed a positive message. Compliance rates jumped, hitting nearly 90 percent within four weeks.

HBR says the results fall in line with recent neuroscience research indicating rewards may surpass punishment's ability to effectively changing behavior.

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