Elevate the voice of patients!
World Patient Safety Day on September 17, 2023: Elevate the voice of patients!
Patient empowerment - why is it important?
The World Health Organization WHO defines empowerment as the process by which people, both individually and as a community, gain greater control over decisions and actions that affect their health. Fundamental to this are, among other things, an understanding of one's role, the acquisition of sufficient knowledge to be able to interact with healthcare workers, and a benevolent and supportive environment.
When taking a closer look at the topic of infection prevention, for example, it quickly becomes clear—as shown by a systematic review—that patients often receive little information about healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) and how to avoid them. At the same time, most patients would like to getmore involved in infection protection and adhere to hygiene measures significantly better after receiving information and motivational material, as a German study from 2019 revealed. However, concerns about negative reactions from healthcare workers when reporting hygiene deficits are often a hindrance. According to a Spanish study, for example, three of four patients are afraid of reminding the staff about hand hygiene—because they worry to be treated worse as a result.
Patient empowerment — how can healthcare workers contribute?
Significantly more patients dare to point out a lack of hand hygiene to healthcare professionals if they are asked to do so in a personal conversation at the beginning of their hospital stay. Beyond that, numerous examples show how well patients and visitors can actively participate in infection protection and HAI prevention. This is especially true when healthcare workers take the patients‘ fears and worries seriously, answer questions, and provide them with specific information—for example, about the importance of hand hygiene at certain moments for patients and visitors.
For instance, the decrease of C. difficile infections after hand hygiene education of patients has been proven  or the increase of patient hand hygiene after patients have been offered information cards and disinfectant wipes by healthcare professionals, e.g., before meals . Reversely, hand hygiene compliance in hospitals also increases when educated patients and visitors remind healthcare professionals of the 5 moments of hand hygiene in the professional setting .
The progressing digitalization in the health sector also helps patients to inform themselves independently about health topics and thus offers a great opportunity to improve the quality of care, increase transparency, and better address patient needs.
We at HARTMANN are committed to patient safety and fully support patient empowerment. We also provide you with patient information materials such as this training video and different educational posters so that you too can encourage your patients and explain the correct hand hygiene:
Patient empowerment: hand in hand for more patient safety!
Everyone can support the goals of this year’s campaign day on September 17! Healthcare workers by providing clear information and being open and approachable; patients and visitors by diligently practicing good hand hygiene! Take part in one of the many activities with your facility. Again this year, the WHO is providing materials that you can use free of charge. In addition, you can show your commitment by posting information under the hashtags #MissionInfectionPrevention, #PatientSafety, and #PatientEmpowerment.
Here, you can also learn more about
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Improving patient hand hygiene impact Clostridiumdifficileinfectionevents at an academic medical center?
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Using a multimodal strategy to improve patient hand hygiene.
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"Did you wash your hands?": a prospective study of patient empowerment to prompt hand washing by healthcareproviders.J Infect Prev. 2021 Sep;22(5):195-202. doi: 10.1177/17571774211012767. Epub 2021 Jun 22. PMID: 34659457; PMCID: PMC8512875.