Almost one in five public hospitals has fallen below the national hand hygiene benchmark, according to new data released by the federal government today.
The new figures listed on the MyHospitals website are the result of a survey of 233 public hospitals around the country between July 2011 and October 2011 under the National Hand Hygiene Initiative.
An interim national benchmark of 70 per cent was used to assess how often hand hygiene was correctly performed, and the results found that half of public hospitals were at or below the standard.
Just over 30 per cent were similar to the benchmark, while almost 19 per cent fell below.
"This is the sort of information that has been available to governments and bureaucrats but not to patients," federal health minister Tanya Plibersek said today.
"This will give patients an opportunity to … have [a] look at their local hospital and see how it compares with other hospitals."
Australians may be able to access health services outside of the public system through a private health insurance policy.
The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare asserted that good hand hygiene was one of the most effective ways to minimise the risk of healthcare-associated infections, such as golden staph.