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5/5/2017 1:00 AM

STOP! Clean Your Hands Day raises awareness of importance of hand hygiene

Ottawa, Canada – One of greatest acts a healthcare provider can perform for their patients, is to treat them with clean hands.

Every year, 220,000 Canadian patients (approximately one in nine) will develop a hospital-acquired infection during their stay in hospital, and an estimate 8,000 of those patients will lose their lives. Furthermore, the cost to treat hospital-acquired infection is estimated to be more than $100 million annually. 

Optimal hand hygiene is one of the most effective ways to reduce healthcare associated infections. By implementing simple hand hygiene tasks, such as cleaning your hands at the right time and in the right way, lives can be saved.

Thousands of healthcare professionals across Canada participate in STOP! Clean Your Hands Day, which takes place every year on May 5. The event is led by the Canadian Patient Safety Institute in partnership with Accreditation Canada, Infection Prevention and Control Canada, the Public Health Agency of Canada, Patients for Patient Safety Canada and Public Health Ontario. STOP! Clean Your Hands Day coincides with "Save Lives: Clean Your Hands," a global initiative of the World Health Organization since 2009.

The message of good hand hygiene is also championed at the highest level of government, as the Honourable Jane Philpott, federal Minister of Health, visited the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO).

Minister Jane Philpott stops to clean her hands at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario.

"Cleaning our hands at the right time, and in the right way, is critical to reduce the risk of infection for vulnerable patients, including children," said Minister Philpott. "I am pleased to be at the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario to help underscore the important link between hand hygiene and patient safety."

The theme for the day is "Ask Yourself . . .", where we challenge everyone to make a change to their hand hygiene behavior by asking themselves a simple question.

"Self-improvement doesn't need to be a burden. Small, incremental changes can lead to big things. Not only can you improve your own practices, you're setting an easy to follow example for everyone around you," said Chris Power, CEO, Canadian Patient Safety Institute. "We're also thrilled to be able to involve Minister Philpott in this year's STOP! Clean Your Hands Day celebration."

"Clean hands save lives and this is why hand hygiene is a key priority for CHEO-OCTC," said Alex Munter, President and CEO of CHEO-OCTC. "We are always looking for ways to enhance patient and healthcare provider safety through improved hand hygiene. Our improvement culture challenges us to do everything we can to further reduce and prevent infections."

In order to engage directly with healthcare providers, as well as patients and their families, the Canadian Patient Safety Institute held a series of STOP! Clean Your Hands Day activities, including an online quiz to test how clean your hands are, a video competition where facilities across the country submitted their own hand hygiene videos, and a webinar to give providers tools and techniques to improve hand hygiene behaviors in their organizations. Learn more at


The Canadian Patient Safety Institute (CPSI) is a not-for-profit organization that exists to raise awareness and facilitate implementation of ideas and best practices to achieve a transformation in patient safety.  Funded by Health Canada, CPSI reflects the desire to close the gap between the healthcare we have and the healthcare we deserve.

For media inquiries, please contact:

Cecilia Bloxom, Senior Director, Strategic Communications
Canadian Patient Safety Institute
(780) 700-8642