Champion Handwasher Hospital Campaign

This Campaign is based on CDC hand hygiene guidelines, JCAHO hand hygiene goals, NPSF goals, the 4 Principles of Hand Awareness (endorsed by the AMA and the AAFP) with an emphasis on "Crucial Conversations" for healthcare and some CREW resource management strategies.

This will begin the "culture of safety" change in our hospitals that will help all of us in healthcare to get closer to our goal: ZERO HAI rate, as recommended by AHRQ, IHI, APIC,SHEA, NPSF and many other organizations. Almost all of whom share our commitment, as our patients are counting on all of us.

It all sounds like a daunting task, but it is very necessary in order to make SIGNIFICANT improvements in the outcome of institutionalized (hospital and nursing homes) patient safety.

If we begin to use the 4 Principles of Hand Awareness as the PRIMARY Prevention Method for HAIs and as a methodology to help initiate the “culture of safety” in every hospital, we would see an influx of compliance in Hand Hygiene and Respiratory guidelines. In turn, this will benefit both Patient Safety and Infection Control initiatives, creating better Patient Care. Hand Awareness (hand hygiene, cross contamination and respiratory etiquette), if strictly practiced by ALL Healthcare workers, would reduce HAIs to nearly zero, no denominator would be necessary.

The REAL challenge is figuring out how to change human behavior in a time-sensitive, chaotic environment and teach HCWs and others to pay closer attention to their own Hand Awareness at all times.


The Champion Handwasher Hospital Campaign that accompanies these 4 Principles and places an emphasis on “genuine communication” across levels of authority (patients, clerks, aids, nurses and physicians) around the hospital. Promoting Hand Awareness during specific weeks (Patient Safety Awareness Week, International Infection Preventionl Week, and National Handwashing Awareness Week) of the year will initiate this “culture of safety”.

The 4 Principles of Hand Awareness, which have been endorsed by the AMA and the AAFP, are the crux of hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette. If every HCW practiced carefully then HAIs would drop off precipitously. While there are many good policies in place that address specific circumstances, none truly teach the HCW how to think “on their feet”, which is a common circumstance in this increasingly complicated hospital health delivery system especially with the advent of technology and increased mobility of the sick patient. This will ensure the HCW will be more aware of their hands and improve the chances of NOT committing “contamination”, be it of their self or patients.

This campaign addresses two key components of HAI: It empowers the least skilled or educated HCW to communicate a basic, but critical, behavior of Hand Awareness associated with HAIs across levels of authority, to reinforce that WE are all on the same TEAM when it comes to patient care (safety). Another hurdle to the emphasis on teamwork and CREW Resource management is to breakdown every HCW’s first 12 years of education that taught us “to do what you are told” and “do not question authority”. This simple Campaign is a great opportunity to benefit patient care and reduce HAI!

Now is the time to begin to leverage all of the HCWs team to begin a more comprehensive approach to help MODIFY human behavior to reduce HAIs.

Our patients "Thank you" for beginning this Culture Changing Campaign!

Please contact me if you have any questions. Together we CAN make a difference!

Will Sawyer MD

Sharonville Family Medicine

The 4 Principles of Hand Awareness:

1. Wash your hands when they are dirty and before eating.

2. Do not cough into your hands.

3. Do not sneeze into your hands.

4. Above all, do not put your fingers into your eyes, nose or mouth.

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