Ottawa Hospital staff are getting even more stringent with their handwashing practices as a part of a new patient safety initiative by the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care.

On April 30, the province will be implementing the last four public safety indicators as part of a May 2008 initiative to report on eight safety indicators.

The Ottawa Hospital will be one of 228 sites across the province reporting the instance of handwashing and cleaning as of April 30.


"One hundred per cent of the hospitals in the province signed up for this," said Dr. Michael Baker, executive lead-Patient Safety for the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, who announced the details of the public reporting at the Ottawa Hospital Tuesday.

Hospitals are asked to report the instances that their staff -- from front-line workers to senior management to housekeeping staff -- clean their hands before and after going into a patient care area.

"It sounds like a simple thing to do," said Baker. But "a busy nurse might clean her hands 200 times a day.

“It's not that workers aren't cleaning their hands now, said Baker. "It's just we're implementing the highest standards possible."

Hospital staff, trained by the Ministry of Health to be auditors, will note who cleans their hands as they walk in and out of a patient area, said Linda Hunter, director of quality and patient safety for the Ottawa Hospital.

This is a widely accepted method of compiling information, said Hunter. Because the people compiling the stats work out of the same unit as the people they are evaluating, "they will become part of the background," said Hunter.

Because of the length of time it takes to compile the information and to change behaviours, the numbers for hand hygiene will be reported once a year, Baker said.

The goal is to see what each of the 228 acute care facilities is reporting on April 30, then improve the numbers by next year.

"We just want to see an improvement over time," said Dr. Gary Garber, vice-chairman of the Department of Medicine and Chairman of the Ottawa Hospital Corporate Infection Control Committee.

The other indicators to be publicly reported include central line infections, ventilator associated pneumonia and surgical site infection.

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