One in Four Hospitals Must Improve Hand-Hygiene Practices to Prevent Infections

June 11, 2015

Simple handwashing is the best known way to prevent hospital infections, but according to a report released today by nonprofit hospital watchdog The Leapfrog Group, nearly one-quarter (23 percent) of hospitals surveyed have not implemented all the safe practices and policies recommended for proper hand hygiene. The results, as analyzed by Castlight Health, found that while hospitals overall showed improvement in 2014 for hand hygiene, rural hospitals aren’t performing as well as their urban counterparts.

“Rural or urban, affluent or safety net, there’s no excuse for a hospital to fail on hand hygiene.”

“Rural or urban, affluent or safety net, there’s no excuse for a hospital to fail on hand hygiene,” said Leah Binder, president and CEO of The Leapfrog Group. “It puts patients, clinicians, and all health care workers at risk when handwashing is not a priority. Hospital-acquired infections kill about 10 percent of those afflicted, according to the Healthcare-Associated Infections Progress Report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.”

“While we trust our doctors and nurses to make us well, many hospital-acquired infections are caused by the contaminated hands of health care workers,” said Dr. Jennifer Schneider, M.D., M.S., chief medical officer for Castlight Health. “Hospitals must not only put the right policies in place—they must also enforce them. This is perhaps one of the easiest steps a hospital can take toward patient safety, but it’s also one of the most important.”


Key findings from this report include:

  • The percentage of hospitals meeting all 10 of Leapfrog’s hand-hygiene practices increased from 69 percent in 2013 to 77 percent in 2014.
  • Urban hospitals continue to outperform rural hospitals; about 20 percent more urban hospitals met Leapfrog’s standard and showed greater year-over-year improvement in meeting the standard.
  • There is significant geographic variation in adoption of hand-hygiene safe practices: in five states, more than 90 percent of reporting hospitals met all practices, while in six states, only 60 percent or less of reporting hospitals met all practices.

To view the complete report on hand-hygiene safe practices, click here

Today’s report is the fifth in a series of six reports examining key quality and safety measures at hospitals nationwide, based on data taken from the 2014 Leapfrog Hospital Survey of 1,501 U.S. hospitals and analyzed by Castlight Health. The initial reports on maternity care, high-risk procedures, computerized physician order entry (CPOE), and nursing, as well as future publications in the report series, are also available. 


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