Can You Remember the 5 Moments?

By Chris Hermann

The World Health Organization established the “My 5 Moments for Hand Hygiene” in 2007. These guidelines define key moments when healthcare workers (HCWs) should perform hand hygiene (HH). The 5 Moments are designed to keep patients – and the healthcare workers themselves – safer. The World Health Organization has been lauded for this model, deservedly so.

However, can HCWs actually remember each of the 5 moments? A recent study suggests they typically do not. Before we delve into the study’s findings, here are the My 5 Moments for Hand Hygiene:

  1. before touching a patient,
  2. before clean/aseptic procedures,
  3. after body fluid exposure/risk,
  4. after touching a patient, and
  5. after touching patient surroundings

Are these five moments memorable? A study published last month in the American Journal of Infection Control showed that clinicians in a large hospital in Poland didn’t fare so well:

“Over 50% of HCWs were able to indicate the first moment of the My 5 Moments for Hand Hygiene. The second moment was identified even more frequently: >60% of HCWs. The third moment was recognized by only one-third of HCWs. The fourth moment was identified by approximately 50% of HCWs. However, <5% of HCWs recognized HH according to the fifth moment…To a large extent, the most correct answers were given by students.”

Why the disconnect? The My 5 Moments is an important and valuable tool. However, HCWs, who are often overworked and extremely busy, are so focused on patient care that they don’t always remember each time they’re supposed to perform hand hygiene. Education doesn’t work, signage doesn’t work, direct observation doesn’t work. What works is an in-the-moment reminder when a busy clinician forgets.

If you’d like to explore how our system typically doubles hand hygiene performance rates…and has reduced HAIs by between 45% and 81% in 100% of customers following our process for 6 months…here’s a brief video about how it works. Or here’s a white paper about The 4 Data Points You Need To Reduce HAIs.

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