Use of a patient empowerment tool for hand hygiene

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Background—Patient empowerment is recognized as an important component of a multimodal strategy to improve hand hygiene adherence. We examined the attitudes of adult patients and parents of pediatric patients towards a new patient empowerment tool (PET) at our hospital. We also surveyed physicians to determine their perceptions about the PET. Methods—A cross-sectional survey was performed of hospitalized children’s parents and adult patients in a 531 bed tertiary care teaching hospital in West Virginia. Surveys were anonymous and self-administered. A separate survey was administered via e-mail to resident and attending physicians from the Departments of Internal Medicine, Pediatrics, and Family Medicine. Results—Most parents and adult patients felt it was their role to speak up if a provider did not perform hand hygiene, but a smaller number actually felt comfortable using the PET. Only 54.9% of physicians felt that patients should be involved in reminding providers to perform hand hygiene. Overall, physicians indicated that they would prefer a patient to use words rather than the PET to remind them to perform hand hygiene. Conclusions—In our study, parents and adult patients supported use of the PET, but physicians were less supportive. As the patient empowerment movement grows, we should work to improve physician acceptance of patient involvement if it is to be successful.