August 15, 2008
Hand hygiene: Look around, speak up

During the past year, the MGH has recorded its highest ever hospitalwide hand hygiene compliance rates, surpassing the 90 percent mark for both before and after contact with the patient or patient environment. While each and every MGHer can be applauded for his or her contributions to this success, all employees nonetheless should remember that the hospital's ultimate goal is 100 percent hand hygiene compliance.

The MGH STOP (Stop Transmission of Pathogens) Task Force has found that there are a number of situations in which hand hygiene noncompliance generally can occur. These include:

  • Immediately before or after glove use. Gloves are never a substitute for hand hygiene.
  • When moving from a desk, chart, computer or other high-contact surface to the patient or his or her environment. In these instances, hand hygiene is required before contact.
  • When contact is made only with the patient's environment and not the patient. The patient's environment includes personal belongings, equipment and surfaces within the patient's room.

The support of all MGHers is needed to help eliminate these types of noncompliance and aid the hospital in reaching its goal of 100 percent compliance. Employees are encouraged to look at the hand hygiene practices of others and speak up when they see that a reminder to use Cal Stat is needed. Proper hand hygiene is a learned practice, and frequent reminders sometimes are needed before it becomes a habit.

For more information about the MGH's hand hygiene program, contact Judy Tarselli at (617) 726-6330 or

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