Post-print of: van de Mortel, TF & Murgo, M 2006, 'An examination of covert observation and solution audit as tools to measure the success of hand hygiene interventions', American Journal of Infection Control, vol. 34, pp. 95-99.
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Background: Many studies have examined hand hygiene (HH) frequency and adherence in response to various interventions. This study used two methods to determine HH frequency and adherence to see how well the outcomes correlated. Method: Hand hygiene frequency was measured over 4 one-month periods (phases 1-4), using two methods: an audit of hand hygiene solution used during each phase adjusted for patient days, and covert observation of HH adherence. The number of X-ray technician contacts with patients (a known quantity) across the study period was retrospectively compared with the number of observations made of X-ray technicians HH behaviour to see what proportion of contacts were observed. Results: HH solution use doubled in phase 2, and was 65% and 55% higher than the baseline level in phases 3 and 4. Observed HH adherence fell from 51% to 37% in phase 2, and then rose to 58% in phases 3 and 4. Three percent of X-ray technicians’ patient contacts were observed across the four phases. Conclusions: Observation of HH may not adequately sample patient contacts to provide an accurate measure of HH adherence. Further studies are needed to confirm this finding.