Health care-associated infections (HAIs) are a major clinical and economic problem in Australian hospitals, and a significant proportion are preventable.
HAIs are the result of complex environmental, microbiological, pathological, behavioural and organisational factors, and prevention requires a multifaceted (“bundled”) approach, including appropriate policies, educational programs for health care workers, and adequate resources to implement them effectively.
Failure to protect patients from avoidable harm, including HAIs, has significant ethical implications; it often reflects both organisational systems failure and non-compliance of health care workers with evidence-based policies, including hand hygiene.
If implemented with appropriate safeguards, infection control “bundles” that include sanctions for poor compliance with hand hygiene and other infection control policies, will achieve sustained improvements where previous approaches have failed.
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