Research for infection protection

Abstract: It does not work without leadership: The management’s role in establishing good hand hygiene compliance.

The public awareness of “hygiene scandals” rises. The failure of some hospitals to adequately protect patients against infections is opposed to clear legal specifications and regulations.

In Germany, hospital operators are obliged to implement the measures defined by the Federal Law on the Prevention of Infectious Diseases in Humans, hygiene regulations and the recommendations of the Robert Koch-Institute and assume responsibility accordingly. The legislator clearly made hygiene safety a responsibility of the management; and also management research has shown that the management level plays a key role when measures need to be implemented.

The University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf (UKE) assumes a role model in the hygiene management with its special hygiene organisation and leadership philosophy. Hierarchically, the hospital hygiene department directly reports to the management board. As administrative department, it has an own budget and staff. The hygiene commission is endowed with comprehensive responsibilities and acts based on clear rules of procedure.

To also embed hygiene at intermediate levels and at the base of the UKE, all 11 clinical centres have their own local hygiene commission. Additionally, with a hygiene mentor model for nursing services, the hospital ensures that in every ward there are employees, who intensively delve into hygiene.

The organisational model is supported by a special understanding of leadership in hygiene: senior staff consciously serve as role model in hygiene behaviour. Further hygiene management pillars are the establishment of an open error culture and regular reviews whether the jointly decided hygiene objectives are met or not.

The structures established in the UKE lead to continuity in hygiene safety. Thanks to the intervention study of the BODE SCIENCE CENTER, the clinic additionally has a model that helps optimise medical and nursing activities. The improvement of further processes of medical and nursing activities that have an influence on the development of nosocomial infections was already introduced to the UKE.

Together with the organisational structure and the leadership culture, this process optimisation ensures that – other than with sporadic training sessions or campaigns – all employees concerned with patient care sustainably remain aware of the importance of infection control.

Speech by Joachim Prölß, Director of Nursing and Patient Organisation and member of the board of the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, Germany. Lunchtime Symposium: Simple Processes – Improved Hygiene. New research results to protect patients in daily hospital routine, Berlin, Germany, 19 September 2013, arranged by the BODE SCIENCE CENTER, Hamburg, Germany, scientific centre of excellence of PAUL HARTMANN AG, Heidenheim, Germany.