No one who enters a hospital to address an acute or chronic health condition deserves to acquire a dangerous or life-threatening infection as a result of their temporary vulnerability. The Institute of Medicine report (2000), To Err Is Human, described the unnecessary deaths or harm attributable to preventable causes, one of which is infection acquired during a hospital stay.
The problem of hospital-acquired infection is increasing around the world (Scott, 2004). It is exacerbated by the emergence of resistant strains among many bacterial and viral infection sources (Capriotti, 2003).
Design of the hospital environment plays a role in the control or transmission of infection. Proper hand hygiene is the single most effective intervention in the prevention of infection in hospital settings (Albert & Condie, 1981; Boyce & Pittet, 2002; Larson, 1988).
Prevention of infection may be facilitated or hampered by specific physical design features of the facilities for decontaminating hands. How can the design and research communities contribute to important improvements in the prevention of infections?