Prince George’s Hospital Center in Cheverly, Md. has achieved the status of “Top Performer” from the Maryland Hospital Hand Hygiene Collaborative.

Hospitals that are considered top performers have a minimum hand hygiene compliance rate of 90 percent for three consecutive months. The responsibility for hand hygiene applies not only to patients, staff and visitors alike, hospital officials said.

“Compliance with hand washing protocols remains a challenge at hospitals around the U.S.,” John A. O’Brien, president of Prince George’s Hospital Center and chief operating officer of Dimensions Healthcare System, said in a press release. “Dimensions Healthcare System wants to do more than just maintain the status quo, it wants to surpass it. Our ultimate goal is to achieve 100 percent compliance.”

The Maryland Hospital Hand Hygiene Collaborative was formed in 2009 to help reduce the number of healthcare-associated infections, and was the first statewide hygiene effort of its kind. The collaborative has trained unknown observers who report compliance, and includes 44 Maryland acute care hospitals and one specialty hospital.

“Hand hygiene is the most fundamental way to reduce the spread of infections,” Abdul Zafar, director of infection control at Prince George’s Hospital Center, said in a press release. “Staffs practice hand hygiene by washing with soap and water or using alcohol-based hand rubs, which are placed in key locations throughout hospital, including outside of each patient room.”

Prince George’s Hospital Center is a 256-bed, acute care hospital with a full-service cardiac care program, and was among the first in Maryland to be designated as a cardiac intervention center for heart attack victims. More than 18,000 individuals are admitted to the hospital annually for inpatient and observation care.