Western Sydney Local Health District

Infections and Hand Hygiene

What is an infection?

An infection occurs when microscopic organisms such as bacteria, viruses, and parasites that are not normally present enter the body and multiply.

‘Staphylococcus aureus’ is a common bacterium which can cause infections ranging from simple boils and abscesses to more serious problems when it enters wounds or the bloodstream. It is commonly known as Golden Staph and is one of the infections that good hand hygiene can help prevent.

Why is this important?

Avoiding infections is one way to help people get better and go home quicker. Good hand hygiene helps to reduce the spread of infections in hospitals.

Hand hygiene is maintained by using alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water to clean hands properly.

There are five key moments when a health care worker caring for a patient should clean their hands:       
1. before touching a patient
2. before a procedure
3. after a procedure or body fluid exposure
4. after touching a patient
5. after touching a patient’s surroundings

How well do we keep our hands clean in Western Sydney Local Health District?

Data from February 2017, measuring the 5 moments of hand hygiene, show that our health care staff comply with the 5 moments 84.4% of the time when providing care for patients. This compares favourably with the benchmark for NSW Health which is 75% compliance.


This speedo is used to represent the
current compliance with the
5 moments of hand hygiene

All staff in WSLHD are committed to Hand Hygiene and continue to improve their compliance 

Western Sydney Local Health District aims for compliance of 90%, and has the following strategies to reach this:
1. formal and informal education sessions
2. ward promotions
3. posters in ward areas
4. posters in staff areas


How well do we prevent infections in Western Sydney Local Health District (WSLHD)?

Bloodstream infection rates in Western Sydney have been steadily improving in recent years, supported by the implementation of whole-of-hospital initiatives aimed at preventing infection.


 In hospitals, data is represented in terms of bed days.
An occupied bed day is an available bed where there is an patient being treated on a particular day

Data from Jan to March 2017 shows that infection rates are 0.3 per 10,000 bed days. We are well ahead of the target which is less than 2.0 infections per 10,000 bed days.

How can you help?

  • watch to see if your doctors, nurses or other health care staff have cleaned their hands
  • ask them to do so if they haven’t
  • encourage your visitors to clean their hands each time they enter or leave your room
  • ask your visitors never to touch your wounds, dressings, or other equipment being used to treat you