Hand Hygiene Compliance

Patient safety is a top priority for North York General and the dedicated health professionals who work in this hospital are committed to providing the best possible care to our patients and their families.

Good hand hygiene is the single most effective way to reduce the risk of health care-associated infections. While hand washing is something we all do, it is also something we want to continue to do better – at the right times and in the right way


Hand hygiene refers to the proper removal of visible dirt and the removal or killing of transient microorganisms from the hands. This can be done by using soap and running water or an alcohol-based hand rub. Good hand hygiene helps eliminate the transmission of these microorganisms.

Four indications define proper hand hygiene compliance in a health care setting:

  1. Before the initial patient or patient environment contact
  2. Before an aseptic procedure
  3. After a risk to body fluid exposure
  4. After the patient/patient environment contact.

Under this definition, a health professional may need to practice hand hygiene up to four separate times during a single contact with a patient or patient environment


The most common transmission of health care-associated infections (HAIs) in health care is on the hands of health care workers who acquire the microorganisms from contact with other colonized or infected patients, or after handling contaminated material or equipment. Learn more about hand hygiene on the Canadian Patient Safety Institute website.

What we are doing to improve patient safety

North York General Hospital has undertaken many initiatives to provide patients with safer care including:

  • Developing a comprehensive system for screening and surveillance of high-risk patients for infectious syndromes (e.g. diarrhea, meningitis, etc.) and antibiotic-resistant organisms (methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus or MRSA, vancomycin-resistant enterococci or VRE, C. difficile, etc.)
  • Enhancing our Infection Prevention and Control Program
  • Actively implementing an aggressive hand washing campaign across the entire hospital to dramatically increase hand washing compliance rates
  • Engaging North York General Hospital staff in developing plans to respond to pandemic influenza

Frequently asked questions