Hand Hygiene Compliance

Good hand hygiene (washing or decontaminating hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub) is an important part of good patient care.

Hand Hygiene Australia (HHA) describes improving hand hygiene among healthcare workers as the single most effective intervention in reducing healthcare-associated infections (HAI) in Australian hospitals. The aim is for healthcare workers to perform hand hygiene correctly at every opportunity, for example, before and after touching a patient.

The National Hand Hygiene Initiative (NHHI) was implemented to develop a national approach to improving hand hygiene and monitor its effectiveness. Although not nationally comparable, hand hygiene information helps to drive quality improvement in hospitals.

Measuring hand hygiene compliance

Hand hygiene is measured by observing a specified number of ‘moments’ before and while caring for patients:

  • Moment 1: Before touching a patient
  • Moment 2: Before a procedure
  • Moment 3: After a procedure or body fluid exposure risk
  • Moment 4: After touching a patient
  • Moment 5: After touching a patient’s surroundings.

The estimated hand hygiene rate for a hospital is a measure of how often hand hygiene is correctly performed (as a percentage). It is calculated by dividing the number of observed hand hygiene ‘moments’ where proper hand hygiene was practiced in a specified audit period, by the total number of observed hand hygiene ‘moments’ in the same audit period and multiplying by 100. The rate is rounded to one decimal place.

Hand hygiene data is provided by State and Territory health services for public hospitals and by individual private hospitals. The data is derived from audits of hand hygiene ‘moments’ conducted up to 3 times per year through the National Hand Hygiene Initiative. Audits are performed by individuals who have undergone HHA auditor training.

The Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care recommends a benchmark hand hygiene rate of 80 per cent.

How do we measure up

The graph below shows the combined hand hygiene compliance rate for the EMHS hospitals:

  • Armadale Health Service
  • Kalamunda Hospital
  • Bentley Health Service
  • Royal Perth Hospital

Chart: EMHS hand hygiene results for audit periods.

EMHS Hand hygiene compliance 

What the figures mean

The graph shows the hand hygiene compliance rate for EMHS for the last four audit periods. A rate higher than the benchmark is desirable.

In the last four audit periods (July 2021 to October 2022), EMHS has consistently achieved greater than the benchmark of 80% compliance.

Last Updated: 01/08/2023