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Evaluation of an educational campaign to increase hand hygiene at a small animal veterinary teaching hospital

Annie SheaCummings School of Veterinary Medicine, Tufts University, North Grafton, MA 02155.

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Scott ShawCummings School of Veterinary Medicine, Tufts University, North Grafton, MA 02155.

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Abstract

Objective—To establish baseline data on rates of hand hygiene behavior, evaluate the effectiveness of an educational intervention aimed at improving hand hygiene, and determine whether methods similar to those applied in human hospitals to improve hand hygiene can be successfully applied in a small animal veterinary hospital.

Design—Prospective observational study.

Sample—568 and 187 observations of interactions between small animal patients and veterinary health-care providers before and after, respectively, educational intervention.

Procedures—Proper hand hygiene practices were defined as use of antibacterial foam or hand washing before or after physical interactions between health-care providers (veterinary medical faculty members, residents, interns, students, and technicians) and patients or proper use of gloves. Data were collected by anonymous direct observation. After an initial observation period, a multimodal educational campaign promoted proper hand hygiene with specific attention to increasing use of antibacterial foam. Two months later, data on proper hand hygiene practices after intervention were collected.

Results—At baseline, 117 of 568 (20.6%) interactions met criteria for proper hand hygiene practices; after intervention, a significantly greater proportion (78/187 [41.7%]) of interactions met criteria for proper hand hygiene practices. Use of antibacterial foam significantly increased from 34 of 568 (6.0%) to 67 of 187 (35.8%) interactions. Health-care providers were 4.1 times as likely to wash their hands with soap and water or to use antibacterial foam on their hands after the intervention than before the intervention.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Initial low rates of proper hand hygiene practices at baseline were improved substantially 2 months after implementing a low-cost multimodal educational campaign.

Abstract

Objective—To establish baseline data on rates of hand hygiene behavior, evaluate the effectiveness of an educational intervention aimed at improving hand hygiene, and determine whether methods similar to those applied in human hospitals to improve hand hygiene can be successfully applied in a small animal veterinary hospital.

Design—Prospective observational study.

Sample—568 and 187 observations of interactions between small animal patients and veterinary health-care providers before and after, respectively, educational intervention.

Procedures—Proper hand hygiene practices were defined as use of antibacterial foam or hand washing before or after physical interactions between health-care providers (veterinary medical faculty members, residents, interns, students, and technicians) and patients or proper use of gloves. Data were collected by anonymous direct observation. After an initial observation period, a multimodal educational campaign promoted proper hand hygiene with specific attention to increasing use of antibacterial foam. Two months later, data on proper hand hygiene practices after intervention were collected.

Results—At baseline, 117 of 568 (20.6%) interactions met criteria for proper hand hygiene practices; after intervention, a significantly greater proportion (78/187 [41.7%]) of interactions met criteria for proper hand hygiene practices. Use of antibacterial foam significantly increased from 34 of 568 (6.0%) to 67 of 187 (35.8%) interactions. Health-care providers were 4.1 times as likely to wash their hands with soap and water or to use antibacterial foam on their hands after the intervention than before the intervention.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Initial low rates of proper hand hygiene practices at baseline were improved substantially 2 months after implementing a low-cost multimodal educational campaign.

Contributor Notes

Dr. Shaw's present address is New England Veterinary Center and Cancer Care, 955 Kennedy Rd, Windsor, CT 06095.

Dr. Shea's present address is Angell Animal Medical Center, 350 S Huntington Ave, Jamaica Plain, MA 02130.

Dr. Shea was supported by a US Army Summer Research Grant.

The authors thank Dr. Lindenmayer for assistance with the statistical analysis.

Address correspondence to Dr. Shaw (Scott.Shaw@tufts.edu).