Hand Hygiene

Topics: Ethics, Hygiene, Health care Pages: 7 (2503 words) Published: November 21, 2011
Hand Hygiene
Good ethics is the foundation of an organization’s character. It is what distinguishes it from the conglomerate of businesses in today’s society. Ethical behavior is the glue that bonds employees and customers to the organization. It is a code of conduct that guides an individual in dealing with others. Ethical issues have are a major concern in business because they have become more complex due to international business expansion and the diversified nature of large corporations. Government regulation and legal requirements have become more stringent in the effort to stem unethical practices in corporations. Finegan (1994) affirms, “the corporate world has come under increasing pressure to behave in a socially responsible manner” (p. 747). Organizations have come to realize that more is at stake if this behavior continues to consume the workplace. Handwashing in the health care setting has been promoted for generations and is recognized as the single most important procedure for preventing infection. The healthcare industry has an ethical and legal obligation to protect and promote the well being of its patients. This obligation should not be administered lightly and upheld by those within the authority to do so. Ethical behavior in the health care industry is essential and desirable; however, determining which behavioral actions are ethical and which are unethical is difficult. Although never will everyone agree on specific ethical standards, everyone should agree that setting ethical standards is vital. Therefore, administrators of health care institutions and health care providers should work together to establish codes of ethics which define boundaries for ethical behaviors in the health care industry. Background

Historically, the hand hygiene story begins in 1822 when moistening hands with liquid chloride solution was advocated for contagious disease interruption. More notably is the Ignaz Semmelweis’ work in 1846 when he insisted physicians and students their hands with a chlorine solution between each clinic patient proving that contaminated hands cleansed with an antiseptic agent between patient contacts reduced the transmission of infectious disease and patient facility more effectively than soap and water washing. The 1950 staphylococcus outbreaks and subsequent investigations led to a preventative strategy focused on healthcare personnel. A series of written recommendations, emphasizing hand cleansing as essential to disease interruption, include the CDC guidelines recommending healthcare practices for implementation in hospitals followed by APIC recommendations and the use of alcohol-based hand rinses. This HICPAC guideline advocates alcohol gels as the ultimate agent for compliance by healthcare workers (HCWs) performing responsibilities. Infections related to healthcare are among the most important causes of morbidity and mortality in hospitalized patients. A study of prevalence carried out by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 55 hospitals from 14 countries showed that 8.7% of hospitalized patients contract Nosocomial Infections (NI). The importance of NI in terms of morbidity, mortality, impact on quality of life in patients and relatives and secondary economic costs, has been emphasized repeatedly in the last years. In the developed countries, around 5-10% of patients admitted to hospitals for acute conditions presented an infection that was not being incubated or present at the time of admission. Healthcare-related infections are the direct cause of 80,000 deaths in the U.S. and 5,000 deaths in England every year. According to data from the survey on Prevalence of Nosocomial Infection in Spain (NI) affected between 7% and 9% of patients admitted in Spanish hospitals. These data are very similar to those for developed countries in terms of frequency, economic cost and mortality. NI present many of the characteristics that define a significant problem in patient safety: affect millions...
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