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Hand hygiene shortcuts: knowing why they happen can improve everyone’s practice

It's all too easy to push hand-washing protocols aside when you’re under pressure – so recognising when this happens can help keep patients safe
nurse washing her hands

It's all too easy to push hand-washing protocols aside when you're under pressure – so recognising when this happens can help keep patients safe

We know compliance with hand hygiene protocols has a significant effect on the prevention of healthcare-acquired infections (HAIs). Yet compliance with best practice standards is patchy to say the least.

In recent years, there has been an improvement in hand hygiene practice, much of it related to the WHO campaign SAVE LIVES: Clean your hands. This campaign introduced the ‘five moments’ principle identifying the five occasions in clinical care where hand hygiene is mandatory.

However, the expectation that nurses and other health professionals practise effective hand hygiene at every one of the ‘five moments’ is a long way from being met. If we are to improve, we need to understand why compliance is low.

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