Characteristics of Inpatient Units Associated With Sustained Hand Hygiene Compliance

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Following institution of a hand hygiene (HH) program at an academic medical center, HH compliance increased from 58% to 92% for 3 years. Some inpatient units modeled early, sustained increases, and others exhibited protracted improvement rates. We examined the association between patterns of HH compliance improvement and unit characteristics.


Adult inpatient units (N = 35) were categorized into the following three tiers based on their pattern of HH compliance: early adopters, nonsustained and late adopters, and laggards. Unit-based culture measures were collected, including nursing practice environment scores (National Database of Nursing Quality Indicators [NDNQI]), patient rated quality and teamwork (Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Provider and Systems), patient complaint rates, case mix index, staff turnover rates, and patient volume. Associations between variables and the binary outcome of laggard (n = 18) versus nonlaggard (n = 17) were tested using a Mann-Whitney U test. Multivariate analysis was performed using an ordinal regression model.


In direct comparison, laggard units had clinically relevant differences in NDNQI scores, Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Provider and Systems scores, case mix index, patient complaints, patient volume, and staff turnover. The results were not statistically significant. In the multivariate model, the predictor variables explained a significant proportion of the variability associated with laggard status, (R2 = 0.35, P = 0.0481) and identified NDNQI scores and patient complaints as statistically significant.


Uptake of an HH program was associated with factors related to a unit's safety culture. In particular, NDNQI scores and patient complaint rates might be used to assist in identifying units that may require additional attention during implementation of an HH quality improvement program.

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