Why Patient Safety Week is so important


30 October 2018

The theme for this year's Patient Safety Week from 4–10 November 2018 is infection prevention and control with a focus on good hand hygiene – the simplest, most effective way to prevent healthcare-associated infections says Whanganui District Health Board (WDHB) infection prevention clinical nurse specialist Jacqueline Pennefather.

”Good hand hygiene helps stop the spread of bugs and antibiotic-resistant infections,” Mrs Pennefather says. “Our DHB is proud of the fact we consistently lead the country’s DHBs when it comes to hand hygiene compliance. However, no DHB or health provider can rest on its laurels. We all know what can go wrong if patients, staff and visitors don’t take the time to wash their hands well.

“It’s heart-warming seeing so many visitors coming in and out of Whanganui Hospital stopping and taking the time to use the hand gel we provide at entry points around the hospital,” Mrs Pennefather says.

“But what we want to impress on patients, is that they can speak up and ask our staff if they have washed their hands appropriately before touching them. We know this is not easy for people to do, but patients have the right to speak up and we encourage them to exercise that right.”

Mrs Pennefather says the DHB is keen to remind the public that good hand hygiene in the home is equally important for preventing the spread of infection within families and whānau – and that reducing infections not only lessens the need for antibiotics but also reduces the opportunity for micro-organisms to develop resistance and share resistance genes.

Appropriate hand washing is all about following the New Zealand five moments of handwashing which include:

  • before touching a patient
  • before a beginning a procedure
  • after the procedure
  • after touching a patient
  • and, after touching a patient’s environment such as their bed.