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Hospital handwashers under scrutiny

August 20, 2008

Hospital handwashers under scrutiny

Tauranga and Whakatane hospitals are taking proactive steps to ensure norovirus and other infections do not disrupt patient care.

A planned monitoring and observation of handwashing and the use of handgels by staff who are in direct contact with patients has been brought forward to this month.

“Both hospital sites will be monitored and all doctors, nurses, health care assistants, allied health staff, orderlies, cleaners and catering staff will be involved,” says chief operating officer Graham Dyer.

Parents or other visitors who are helping with the personal care of patients will also find themselves under observation.

“Handwashing is an essential part of ensuring infection doesn’t spread,” says Graham. “By being vigilant on something that seems small, we can potentially avoid norovirus or similar infections affecting our hospitals.”

The DHB has an organizational policy on handwashing and the exercise is aimed at ensuring staff are aware of the policy, and are washing their hands effectively. For visitors, it’s a chance to learn how to ensure their handwashing behaviour makes a positive difference.

“It has to apply to everyone to be of any value,” says Graham. “If visitors are aware of correct handwashing procedures, they will be helping to keep their family member and other patients safe.”

During last year wards at Tauranga Hospital were struck by norovirus and gastroenteritis during the winter, affecting both staff and patients. The intent of this initiative is to minimize the possibility of this occurring this year.

A key factor in preventing the spread of infection is strict handwashing after using the toilet, and before preparing or serving food.


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