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Morristown Medical Center Lauded Nationally for Nearly Perfect Clinical Hand Hygiene

June 12, 2019

Morristown Medical Center Receives 2019 Breakthrough Performance in Hand Hygiene Compliance Award

Morristown, NJ – Atlantic Health System’s Morristown Medical Center has been recognized nationally for its clinical team’s exceptional hand hygiene.

The medical center received the 2019 Breakthrough Performance in Hand Hygiene Compliance Award, which recognizes the sole hospital in the nation that showed the greatest improvement in hand hygiene compliance, at the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC) annual meeting on June 12 in Philadelphia.

Morristown Medical Center accepts hand hygiene compliance award

Data from specific quarters in 2017 and 2018, compared to those same quarters in 2018 and 2019 showed that Morristown Medical Center improved its compliance by 13.4 percent, with a 12-month compliance rate of 94.5 percent.

By comparison, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that healthcare provides clean their hands less than half of the times that they should.

“Morristown Medical Center is proud to be recognized as a national leader in hand hygiene compliance, which helps create and sustain a healing environment for our patients,” said Cindy Dugan, RN, MAS, CPHQ, Director, Quality & Patient Safety, Morristown Medical Center. “Over the past few years, Morristown Medical Center and all hospitals within Atlantic Health System diligently worked to identify challenges and implement effective solutions that helped us reduce healthcare associated infections and review our progress in real-time.”

With initial goals to decrease hospital-associated infections and accurately measure hand hygiene compliance, Atlantic Health System introduced the DebMed Electronic Hand Hygiene Compliance Monitoring System in July 2015.

The DebMed Electronic Hand Hygiene Compliance Monitoring System is the only research-based, badge-free system able to track compliance based on the World Health Organization’s ‘5-Moments’ and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention hand hygiene standards. With its ability to capture 100 percent of hand hygiene events and opportunities beyond just room entry and exit, it promotes a spirit of collaboration and accountability and provides actionable feedback for the group without singling out individuals.

Atlantic Health System has experienced the following benefits since implementing the DebMed Electronic Hand Hygiene Compliance Monitoring System:

  • Improved hand hygiene compliance rates. Today, Atlantic Health System is nearing 90 percent compliance using the WHO 5-Moments for Hand Hygiene guidelines, with Morristown Medical Center at nearly percent
  • Since 2015, the participating units have increased overall compliance by nearly 70 percent, demonstrating a 69 percent improvement. After expanding the program to all six of its medical centers, Atlantic Health has achieved and sustained a 57 percent improvement
  • HAI reduction. By incorporating the DebMed System in to its HAI reduction efforts, Atlantic Health has seen an overall decrease in HAIs, including:
    • Decrease in Catheter Associated Urinary Tract Infection by 47 percent
    • Decrease in Surgical Site Infection by 58 percent
    • Decrease in C-difficile by 64 percent
    • Decrease in Methicillin Resistant Staph Aureus Blood by 82 percent 
  • Increased teamwork. Under the previous system, individual staff members were solely responsible for their hand hygiene compliance. Since switching to the DebMed system, hand hygiene has become an enjoyable team effort and commitment.
  • Reliable data. The DebMed Dashboard provides consistent and easy-to-access data that allows units to identify areas for improvement and encourages hand hygiene conversations among staff, infection perfectionists, managers and hospital board and committee members.

In addition, the infection prevention team led monthly meetings to keep team members abreast of real-time data, and brainstormed additional ways to improve compliance, which included:

  • Asking high-performing units to share best practices and tips
  • Celebrating achievements of hospital and most improved units
  • Reviewing decrease in HAIs at every meeting leadership and managers attended 
  • Creating a friendly competition among units
  • Ensuring team understood their impact on the delivery of safe care through hand hygiene

“Hand-washing is the single most effective way to help prevent infection and stop the spread of diseases and airborne illnesses, and it made sense for us to undertake a campaign that not only helped decrease HAIs and improve compliance, but literally change the culture of our healing environment,” said Christine Young-Ruckriegel, MSN,MPA,RN, CIC, Infection Prevention Program Manager, Morristown Medical Center. “I am proud to say that hand hygiene compliance is now one of the central points of discussion in all of our leadership meetings, daily huddles, and unit discussions, and truly one of the most important points of patient care.”

More information on our past hand hygiene compliance recognitions >

About Atlantic Health System

Atlantic Health System is at the forefront of medicine, setting standards for quality health care in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and the New York metropolitan area. Powered by a workforce of 17,000 team members and 4,800 affiliated physicians dedicated to building healthier communities, Atlantic Health System serves more than half of the state of New Jersey including 11 counties and 4.9 million people. The system offers 400 sites of care, including six hospitals: Morristown Medical Center in Morristown, NJ, Overlook Medical Center in Summit, NJ, Newton Medical Center in Newton NJ, Chilton Medical Center in Pompton Plains, NJ, Hackettstown Medical Center in Hackettstown, NJ and Goryeb Children’s Hospital in Morristown, NJ.

In addition to the employed workforce, Atlantic Alliance, a Clinically Integrated Network represents more than 2,500 health care providers throughout northern and central NJ. This network includes 1,000 physicians and providers comprising one of the largest multi-specialty practices in New Jersey - Atlantic Medical Group, as well as members of the Atlantic Accountable Care Organization and Optimus Healthcare Partners, which work to enhance patient care delivery.

Atlantic Health System provides care for the full continuum of health needs, including 12 urgent care centersAtlantic Rehabilitation and Atlantic Home Care and Hospice. Facilitating the connection between these services on both land and air is the transportation fleet of Atlantic Mobile Health.

Atlantic Health System leads the Healthcare Transformation Consortium, a partnership of seven regional hospitals and health systems dedicated to improving access and affordability, and is a founding member of the PIER Consortium – Partners in Innovation, Education, and Research – a streamlined clinical trial system expanding access to groundbreaking research across seven health systems in New Jersey.

Atlantic Health System has a medical school affiliation with Thomas Jefferson University and is home to the regional campus of the Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Morristown and Overlook Medical Centers and is the official health care partner of the New York Jets.