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Nurses Rap About Hand Hygiene in Mass General Campaign

Keri Mucci, for HealthLeaders Media, June 10, 2009

Hospitals commonly display visual aids, such as banners, posters, and signs to remind staff to practice proper hand hygiene, but nurses in Massachusetts General Hospital's same day surgery unit may have found a more memorable way to get the message across: creating a rap video.

Dubbed the "Cal Stat Rap," the humorous, educational music video depicts Pauline M. Albrecht, RN, BSN, as she rhymes about the importance of using the facility's Cal Stat sanitizers and performing proper hand-washing protocol to prevent the spread of infection. Various other hospital staff also have cameos in the film; some can be seen dancing with bottles of Cal Stat and others demonstrating when to use it.

The rap, written and produced by Albrecht, is the latest component of MGH's hand hygiene campaign, which formerly led staff in its neonatal ICU, medical ICU, and one cardiac unit to achieve 100% compliance before and after patient contact for three consecutive months. The facility's overall hand hygiene compliance is currently peaked at 90%.

Albrecht's recent creative hand-hygiene efforts are what Judy Tarselli, RN, in the infection control unit, describes as truly unique.

"We have more than 150 of what we call hand-hygiene champions who are peer leaders," she says. "Pauline was not a designated champion—but a nurse working on one of our units and just a perfect example of what can be achieved even if you're not officially affiliated with the improvement group. This is how ingrained hand hygiene has become in our culture."

Tarselli says it took Albrecht about two months to write and record the rap and another month to choreograph and film it. The end product, which is about two-and-a-half minutes, supports the tone of MGH's former infection control initiatives.

"It represents how we have tried to keep our improvement efforts positive and fun," says Tarselli. "Champions here have created everything from bulletin boards, to songs, to poems, to contests."

But while the rap addresses hand hygiene in a lighthearted manner, the lyrics of the "Cal Stat Rap" touch on some crucial hospital challenges, such as maintaining compliance with The Joint Commission (formerly JCAHO).

The lyrics read:
So you better pay attention to the rules,
We gotta beat the nasty bugs we got the tools.
Too much sharing and not caring gotta cease
Says JCAHO and the Cal Stat police.

The "Cal Stat police" or undercover agents at MGH, such as Tarselli, have been directly observing staff on all units for the last seven years and have been conducting routine surveys. Both tactics have since enabled them to watch MGH's average hand hygiene compliance rates take off, according to Tarselli.

"You need a measure for improvement. And you can have hand hygiene among nurses and doctors, but that alone isn't going to get you anywhere," says Tarselli. "Everybody that is affiliated with patients and their environment must be included in the hand-hygiene program."


Keri Mucci is an editorial assistant in the nursing and home health market at HCPro, Inc. She maintains www.StrategiesforNurseManagers.com and www.StressedOutNurses.com, and conducts market research within the industry. She can be reached at kmucci@hcpro.com.


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