Research for infection protection

Study: Optimised processes play a key role in patient safety

Simply changing into the next gear – without thinking about it. Hygiene experts wish that hygiene measures – particularly hand hygiene – during medical and nursing activities were carried out as automatically as driving a car. Between 20 % and 30 % of all nosocomial infections are considered avoidable, when employees would adhere to the recommendations on hygiene.

With its intervention study at the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf (UKE) in Germany, the BODE SCIENCE CENTER has come much closer to the goal of making hygiene more intuitive and easier.

The research project, which was carried out from March 2012 to March 2013, started from the hypothesis that in clinical practice medical or nursing measures do not adequately consider all steps, which involve a risk of infection, and should be optimised, for healthcare workers to carry them out easier and safer.

Using the process of placing a peripheral venous catheter (PVC) as example, the BODE SCIENCE CENTER together with the UKE developed a process that is optimal in terms of patient protection and comprehensibility for personnel.  

The process for the first time takes into account all sub-steps that involve a risk of infection, i.e. all moments in which pathogens could be transmitted and thus trigger an infection. The intervention study had a novel approach: rather than looking at hand disinfection in isolation, it considered the complete process including all defined actions involving a risk of infection.

The individual steps, which were developed based on scientifically proven recommendations, were brought into the ideal order and trained during an intervention phase. The final observation revealed a significant compliance improvement, both with hand disinfection (45 %) and with the adherence to the optimal order of the individual steps.

The intervention study shows that the consideration of the hygiene-relevant steps and their integration into clear, understandable processes lead to a significant improvement of the employees’ hygiene behaviour. Thus, the rate of nosocomial infection, for example of PVC-associated bloodstream infection, can be further reduced.

Far-reaching positive effects on patient safety

More than 70 % of all patients in hospitals receive a PVC during their treatment. Lacks in hygiene may have life-threatening consequences, such as bloodstream infections. A higher compliance thus has a positive influence on the patient safety in many areas of medical care.

The approach of the BODE SCIENCE CENTER’s intervention study is a model for further activities that present a risk of developing nosocomial infections. The UKE uses the study results to develop and establish additional standard operating procedures (SOPs) for medical and nursing activities. Other facilities might follow.

The e-learning programme on the insertion of a PVC used for the intervention and further e-learning programmes on medical and nursing activities can be completed on the BODE SCIENCE CENTER website at The tools were certified with continuing education credits by the Medical Association of Hamburg and the German “Registration of professional nurses”.

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.