Health care worker hand hygiene in the pediatric special care unit at Mulago National Referral Hospital in Uganda: A best practice implementation project

Christine Muhumuza, Judith Streak Gomersall, Makumbi E. Fredrick, Lynn Atuyambe, Christopher Okiira, Aggrey Mukose, John Ssempebwa

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8 Citations (Scopus)


Introduction: The hands of a health care worker are a common vehicle of pathogen transmission in hospital settings. Health care worker hand hygiene is therefore critical for patients' well being. Whilst failure of health care workers to comply with the best hand hygiene practice is a problem in all health care settings, issues of lack of access to adequate cleaning equipment and in some cases even running water make practicing good hand hygiene particularly difficult in low-resource developing country settings. This study reports an audit and feedback project that focused on the hand hygiene of the health care worker in the pediatric special care unit of the Mulago National Referral Hospital, which is a low-resource setting in Uganda. Objective: To improve hand hygiene among health care workers in the pediatric special care unit and thereby contribute to reducing transmission of health care worker-associated pathogens. Methods: The Joanna Briggs Institute three-phase Practical Application of Clinical Evidence System audit and feedback tool for promoting evidence utilization and change in health care was used. In phase one of the project, stakeholders were engaged and seven evidence-based audit criteria were developed. A baseline audit was then conducted. In phase two, barriers underpinning areas of noncompliance found in the baseline audit were identified and three strategies - education, reminders and provision of hand cleaning equipment - were implemented to overcome them. In phase three, a follow-up audit was conducted. Results: Compliance with best practice hygiene was found to be poor in the baseline audit for all but one of the audit criteria. Following the implementation of the strategies, hand hygiene improved. The compliance rate increased substantially across all criteria. Staffeducation achieved 100%, whilst criterion 4 increased to 70%. However, use of alcohol-based hand-rub for hand hygiene only improved to 66%, and for six of the seven audit criteria, compliance remained below 74%. Conclusion: The project provides another example of how audit can be used as a tool to improve health practice, even in a low-resource setting. At the same time, it showed how difficult it is to achieve compliance with best hand hygiene practice in a low-resource hospital. The project highlights the importance of continued education/awareness raising on the importance of good hand hygiene practice as well as investment in infrastructure and cleaning supplies for achieving and sustaining good hand hygiene among workers in a lowresource hospital setting. A key contribution of the project was the legacy it left in the form of knowledge about how to use audit and feedback as a tool to promote the best practice. A similar project has been implemented in the maternity ward at the hospital and further audits are planned.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)19-27
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal of Evidence-Based Healthcare
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished or Issued - 1 Jan 2015


  • Clinical audit
  • Developing country
  • Evidence implementation
  • Evidence-based practice
  • Hand hygiene
  • Pediatric ward

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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