Clean Hands Save Lives

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The Pennsylvania Department of Health reminded residents to visit www.CleanHandsSaveLives.org site for tips and other resources on how to protect themselves from healthcare-acquired infections – also known as HAIs.

“Pennsylvania is proud to be the first state to require comprehensive, in-state HAI reporting,” said Secretary of Health Everette James. “We have also worked with all of the state’s healthcare facilities to put infection control plans in place to decrease the number of infections spread in healthcare settings. While we have taken these steps, we also need residents to help in this effort and want to remind each of you that the easiest way to prevent the spread of any infection is simply by washing your hands. Hand-washing is the first step in reducing HAIs.”

A healthcare-acquired infection is one that an individual gets while a patient in a hospital or other healthcare setting.

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To educate citizens about how to guard against such infections, the department developed the ‘Clean Hands Save Lives’ campaign. The campaign provides information about HAIs and promotes good hygiene practices.

According to the latest report released by Pennsylvania’s Health Care Cost Containment Council, hospitals in Pennsylvania reported more than 27,000 healthcare-acquired infections in 2007. Patients that acquired such infections stayed more than three times longer in the hospital and their admission was four times as expensive as any other hospital admission.

To reduce the incidence of the state’s HAIs, Governor Edward G. Rendell signed Senate Bill 968 as a part of his proposed Prescription for Pennsylvania health care reform initiative in July 2007. The following measures were implemented under the law:

* Hospitals, nursing homes and ambulatory surgical facilities were required to submit infection control plans to the department by Dec. 31, 2007.
* Hospitals began reporting their HAIs facility-wide as of Feb. 2008.
* Nursing homes will begin reporting their HAIs this spring.

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