About the Provincial Hand Hygiene Program

PHHWG logoThere is increasing awareness of the importance of hand hygiene (HH), not only to protect patients but to protect the health of healthcare workers (HCW). In response to an Office of the Auditor General review on hand hygiene programs in healthcare, the Provincial Hand Hygiene Working Group (PHHWG) was formed with the support of the Ministry of Health Services and the BC Health Operations Council.

The Working Group

The PHHWG is composed of representatives from each of the health authorities, the Ministry of Health, the BC Patient Safety and Quality Council (BCPSQC), and the Provincial Infection Control Network of BC (PICNet).


The group has been tasked with developing a mandatory province-wide hand hygiene program for the health authorities and assisting in its implementation for the individual health authorities. Download the two-page backgrounder.

Compliance Auditing

In 2012, provincial auditing of hand hygiene compliance in acute care facilities commenced. The methods of auditing vary from facility to facility; some do self auditing, while others have hired external auditors. The compliance data are sent quarterly to PICNet, and compiled into reports. In 2014, the provincial auditing will extend to long-term care facilities.


With funding from WorkSafeBC, a research project was conducted from November 2011 to November 2013. The goal of the research was to:

  • systematically document the creation and implementation of the provincial HH program, with emphasis on the barriers and promoters to its success,
  • examine the effect of the program on HCW HH compliance (through HH audit results),
  • assess the impact of the program on HCW perceptions of a healthy work environment, and
  • ascertain the impact of a HH program on worker health.


A survey was conducted in January 2012 and April 2013 to collect data on healthcare workers’ perceptions of hand hygiene. All BC health authorities asked that their healthcare workers participate. You can view a PowerPoint summary of the results

Program Timeline

2007 Auditor General reviews infection control in BC, and notes HH as area for improvement
2007-2010 Several HAs individually develop regional HH programs
Spring 2010 Auditor General requests HAs to self-assess HH programs
Fall 2010 PHHWG formed
April 2011 First quarter HH audit results collected using standardized reporting
August 2011 WorkSafeBC research grant awarded
December 2011 – January 2012 Interviews with HAs about their HH programs
January 2012 Provincial Hand Hygiene Perception Survey sent out to healthcare workers throughout BC
July 2012 First provincial report on hand hygiene compliance within acute care facilities
Fall 2012 Dissemination of perception survey results
September 2012 Hand Hygiene Online Education Module to be rolled out across health authorities
March/April 2013 Second Hand Hygiene Perception Survey
April 2014 (Health authority owned and operated) long-term care facilities to start collecting hand hygiene data
April 2015 Provincial collection of long-term care hand hygiene data begins
Jan 2016 First provincial report on hand hygiene compliance in long-term care facilities
April 2016 PHHWG begins review of Hand Hygiene Guidelines