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Design Strategies — Infection Control - Hand Hygiene

July 2015
Design Strategies
Author: Xiaobo Quan


Hand hygiene is the single most important component of healthcare-associated infection prevention. The physical environment plays a key role in promoting hand hygiene. Effective hand hygiene strategies integrate environmental, personal, and organizational/operational elements.  


Increase knowledge/awareness through education

  • Display signs, posters, and/or screen savers to support hand hygiene education programs tailored to staff. Education programs may include tactics such as clear guidance, social influence, and leadership support.


Provide real-time reminders/monitoring of hand hygiene compliance

  • Utilize technology (e.g., electronic monitoring systems, video surveillance, electronic hand hygiene counters, motion-activated audible hand hygiene reminders, radiofrequency identification (RFID) tracking systems);
  • Apply simple visual cues (e.g., color on floor and walls directing attention to hand hygiene devices); and/or
  • Ensure hand hygiene devices (sinks and dispensers) are visible and unblocked by doors, equipment, or other items.


Make it easy to clean hands

  • Facilitate hand hygiene through convenient hand hygiene facilities (e.g., placement within staff workflows at ergonomically appropriate heights).
    • In addition to environmental design, hand hygiene can also be supported through efficient process design incorporating hand hygiene as an important step in workflows and maximizing staff time in direct patient care.


Improve Hand Cleanliness through Environmental Hygiene

  • Enhance environmental cleanliness to reduce the risk of cross-contamination potentially caused by low hand hygiene compliance.


For additional considerations, refer to the full Infection Control: Hand Hygiene Issue Brief and the more comprehensive list of infection control strategies in the Hand Hygiene Evaluation Checklist tool. 


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