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5 Ways to Break the Chain of Infection

Patrick Boshell
October 16, 2017



Viral and bacterial infections threaten the health and well-being of adults and children in every environment – from highly developed, industrial nations to struggling, third-world countries. International Infection Prevention Week (IIPW), which takes place October 16-22, 2017, is a global campaign designed to zero in on healthcare’s shared mission: “Break the Chain of Infection.”


The Association of Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC) recommends six strategies for breaking the chain of infection, one of which is proper hand hygiene. Consider how you can contribute to “Breaking the Chain of Infection” by implementing strategies like the following:


  1. Champion the adoption and use of effective hand hygiene guidelines, including the WHO Five Moments.


  1. Use proper hand washing and sanitising techniques, as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which suggests when and how to perform hand hygiene with practical advice on glove use, skin and nail care and use of sanitisers.


  1. Choose hand hygiene products carefully, taking into account factors like professionals’ acceptance of the product and product availability and access on every shift. Among the issues: Does the product work? Do staff understand, accept and use the product appropriately? Is the product available and easily accessible?


  1. Share performance gains. Healthcare professionals seek timely, accurate, evidence-based feedback on clinical and business performance. They’re eager to learn how their actions, including hand hygiene compliance, move the needle on patient safety, quality, infection control and readmissions prevention. The solution: Use daily huddles, meetings and celebratory events to report on hand hygiene performance improvements and celebrate hand hygiene ambassadors and champions.


  1. Make hand hygiene fun! Hand hygiene should be encouraged and we have seen that facilities are the most successful with compliance increases when the staff work together to implement a proper hand hygiene culture. Position hand hygiene as an opportunity to contribute to a culture of compliance, quality, safety and joy in the workplace. For example, if you notice a co-worker miss an opportunity, consider a secret phrase like “paws” or a gesture like an open palm to help professionals remind their colleagues to perform hand hygiene.


International Infection Prevention Week (IIPW)


The 2017 theme for International Infection Prevention Week is Antibiotic Resistance. Antimicrobial resistance has gained notoriety as one of the most pressing public health issues the world faces today. It is occurring everywhere in the world, compromising our ability to treat infectious diseases, as well as undermining many other advances in health and medicine.


The treatment for patients with antimicrobial resistant infections is costlier, requires additional testing and expensive drugs to treat.  25,000 deaths in Europe are attributable to antimicrobial resistance[i].


One of the objectives of the World Health Organization (WHO) Global Plan on Antimicrobial Resistance is to reduce infections by improving hygiene, sanitation, and infection prevention. The most effective and efficient means of infection prevention in the community and healthcare settings is hand hygiene.


Each of us – patients, families, and healthcare personnel – has an important role to play in keeping patients safe from infection. First and foremost, know the basics of infection prevention. Do your part – hand hygiene is key! Whether you’re in a healthcare facility or in the community, there are things healthcare professionals, patients, and family members can do to stay safe from infections.


The changes you introduce during this important commemorative week will create a foundation for hand hygiene compliance initiatives going forward.


Head to or to discover what downloads are available for you to promote hand hygiene in your facility.



 [i] International Infection Prevention Week (IIPW)


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