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Ecolab Joins EHCO to Lead the Change in Hand Hygiene Policy and Guidelines

September 18, 2017

Ecolab has joined forces with EHCO™, the Electronic Hand-hygiene Compliance Organization. EHCO, a consortium of healthcare technology companies, is focused on influencing changes in hand hygiene measurement policy and guidelines at accreditation organizations, government agencies, health insurers and hospitals. EHCO’s purpose is to increase safety and reduce avoidable harm to patients and hospital staff. 

“Ecolab is proud to join an industry organization that is focused on improving hand hygiene compliance,” said Kathleen Burzycki, Ecolab’s senior marketing manager for Healthcare. “Electronic measurement will change individual behavior, increasing the safety of both patients and healthcare workers, and lead to improvements in hand hygiene compliance across hospitals and other healthcare facilities.”

Every year in the U.S., more than 700,000 hospital patients contract a healthcare-associated infection (HAI). Of those patients, approximately 75,000 will die.1 While proper hand hygiene is critical to preventing the transmission of many of these infections, globally hand hygiene compliance rates are found to be less than 40 percent.2

Until recently, the only way to measure how well healthcare workers washed their hands was direct observation. With direct observation, individuals know they are being observed and adjust their behavior, which can inflate a hospital’s true compliance rate. A hospital may think its hand hygiene compliance rate is 90 percent, but direct observation only accounts for 1.2 to 3.5 percent of all hand hygiene events.3 That leaves more than 96 percent of hand hygiene events undocumented and compliance rates highly overstated.

“Patient health and lives are being put at risk by outdated compliance measurement methods, which often inflate actual hand hygiene rates by up to 300 percent4,” said Paul Alper, chairman of EHCO and vice president of patient safety strategy at DebMed. “Patients are subjected to extended stays and unnecessary suffering as a result of HAIs, many of which could be prevented with proper hand hygiene. That is why the members of EHCO are uniting to drive change in U.S. healthcare policy. We are thrilled to have Ecolab, with its industry-leading reputation and broad capabilities, on the team.” 

Evidence-based electronic measurement of hand hygiene has become widely available in the past few years as a way to accurately and continuously measure hand hygiene compliance in real-time and provide meaningful feedback to healthcare workers. Capturing 100 percent of hand hygiene behavior electronically gives hospital leaders visibility into quality, patient safety and infection control rates, but no policy guidelines or mandates for electronic monitoring exist. EHCO member companies believe it is their responsibility to lead the change in the acceptable standard of care to improve public health and patient safety.

To learn more about EHCO, visit http://www.ehcohealth.org/.

1. "Healthcare-associated Infections (HAIs)." Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 15 Oct. 2015. Web. Available at http://www.cdc.gov/HAI/surveillance/#survey
2. McGuckin M. Waterman R. Govednik J. “Hand hygiene compliance rates in the United States — a one-year multicenter collaboration using product/volume usage measurement and feedback.” School of Population Health Faculty Papers. March 2009 24(3): 205-213.
3. Fries SL, Tolentino G, Thomas T, et al. Monitoring hand hygiene via human observers: how should we be sampling? Presented at 21st Annual Scientific Meeting of the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America; Dallas, TX: 2011. Abstract 50.
4. Srigley JA, et al. (2014). Quantification of the Hawthorne effect in hand hygiene compliance monitoring using an electronic monitoring system: A retrospective cohort study. BMJ Qual Saf, 974-80. doi:10.1136/bmjqs-2014-003080. Available at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=srigley+quantification


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