Impact of COVID-19 on hospital hand hygiene performance: a multicentre observational study using group electronic monitoring Journal Articles uri icon

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  • BACKGROUND: Reliable reports on hand hygiene performance throughout the COVID-19 pandemic are lacking as most hospitals continue to rely on direct observation to measure this quality indicator. Using group electronic hand hygiene monitoring, we sought to assess the impact of COVID-19 on adherence to hand hygiene. METHODS: Across 12 Ontario hospitals (5 university and 7 community teaching hospitals), a group electronic hand hygiene monitoring system was installed before the pandemic to provide continuous measurement of hand hygiene adherence across 978 ward and 367 critical care beds. We performed an interrupted time-series study of institutional hand hygiene adherence in association with a COVID-19 inpatient census and the Ontario daily count of COVID-19 cases during a baseline period (Nov. 1, 2019, to Feb. 29, 2020), the pre-peak period of the first wave of the pandemic (Mar. 1 to Apr. 24, 2020), and the post-peak period of the first wave (Apr. 25 to July 5, 2020). We used a Poisson regression model to assess the association between the hospital COVID-19 census and institutional hand hygiene adherence while adjusting for the correlation within inpatient units. RESULTS: At baseline, the rate of hand hygiene adherence was 46.0% (6 325 401 of 13 750 968 opportunities) and this improved beginning in March 2020 to a daily peak of 79.3% (66 640 of 84 026 opportunities) on Mar. 30, 2020. Each patient admitted with COVID-19 was associated with improved hand hygiene adherence (incidence rate ratio [IRR] 1.0621, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.0619-1.0623). Increasing Ontario daily case count was similarly associated with improved hand hygiene (IRR 1.0026, 95% CI 1.0021-1.0032). After peak COVID-19 community and inpatient numbers, hand hygiene adherence declined and returned to baseline. INTERPRETATION: The first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic was associated with significant improvement in hand hygiene adherence, measured using a group electronic monitoring system. Future research should seek to determine whether strategies that focus on health care worker perception of personal risk can achieve sustainable improvements in hand hygiene performance.


  • Williams, Victoria
  • Kovacs-Litman, Adam
  • Muller, Matthew P
  • Hota, Susy
  • Powis, Jeff E
  • Ricciuto, Daniel R
  • Mertz, Dominik
  • Katz, Kevin
  • Castellani, Lucas
  • Kiss, Alex
  • Linkenheld-Struk, Amber
  • Leis, Jerome A

publication date

  • October 2021