How the Right Words Can Deliver a 6-Figure Payoff

Anna Webster, September 14, 2011

The Centers for Disease Control estimates that hand washing adherence among healthcare personnel is less than 50%, meaning that  the level of hand hygiene among doctors, nurses, and other clinicians is dismal..

Each year in the U.S., two million patients become infected with a hospital acquired infection and the annual costs range from $4.5 billion to $11 billion. But an infection is not simply a monetary issue, it's a safety compliance issue that puts patients at extreme risk.

The problem doesn't stem from hospitals lack of infection control supplies, but rather from  individual medical professional's compliance with tasks as simple as hand washing.

Hungarian physician Ignaz Semmelweis first corelated infection rates from childbed fever with hand washing in 1847. It took the medical community some time to accept the importance of the task. But it's been164 years  and hospitals and health systems are still having problems with hand washing compliance.

Parkland Memorial Hospital's recent failure to "dispose of soiled gloves and gowns and wash hands after treating patients" shows how even reputable hospitals can slip up on standard practices. The Dallas hospital has agreed to bring in an outside consultant to craft a plan of improvement to protect its $417 million in Medicare and Medicaid funds at risk because of immediate jeopardy deficiencies.

Anna Webster Questions? Comments? Story ideas? Anna Webster, Online Content Coordinator for HealthLeaders Media, can be reached at
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