You may have noticed that there's no shortage of alarming media headlines reporting on the latest C. difficile or MRSA outbreak in hospitals. The increasing frequency of hospital-acquired infections sends home the absolute importance of cleaning our hands.

A recent study found that only 32 per cent of health care professionals in Ontario hospitals clean their hands properly before and after interaction with a patient. Further, five to seven per cent of patients admitted to Canadian hospitals acquire preventable, and potentially fatal, infections.

A recent CBC "Marketplace" episode with UHN's Director of Infection Prevention and Control, Dr. Michael Gardam, highlighted what can happen to patients when they're exposed to infections. Older patients, individuals with weak immune systems and patients who have been in hospitals for extended periods are especially vulnerable.

The launch of UHN's "Got Hands? Clean 'Em!" campaign coincides with National Infection Control Week, which begins this week. Led by the Infection Prevention and Control team, this campaign is about preventing our patients from getting infections in the first place. You will see a number of attention-grabbing posters, buttons and other educational materials to remind UHN staff, patients and visitors of the importance of hand hygiene in preventing hospital infections. As part of our campaign, we're:

  • Introducing a new alcohol-based hand-sanitizing product. Staff from seven different units participated in a blind test trial of three different products - we purchased the product that staff liked the best;
  • Installing more alcohol-based hand sanitizer stations at patient bedsides and other points of care (such as MOE/MAR stations) to make it easier to use before and after interactions with patients;
  • Measuring our hand hygiene compliance;
  • Providing an informative patient education brochure on the importance of hand hygiene;
  • In addition to encouraging staff compliance, we're involving patients, their friends and families in the fight against infections. Staff will be offered colourful buttons encouraging patients to ask about hand hygiene;
  • Doing a "Hand Hygiene Extreme Makeover" on one lucky unit!

The campaign will be implemented over the next year across the entire UHN. Look for new posters, stickers and most importantly lots more alcohol hand sanitizer at a nursing unit near you.

I know we've talked about hand hygiene for a long time here at the UHN, but this campaign will be the campaign to end all campaigns. We expect to see a significant, sustained increase in compliance with hand hygiene and a dramatic decrease in our hospital acquired infection rates.

For more information, visit IPAC's website at


Back to Top