Auckland health authorities say they have reduced the rate of hospital-acquired infections in patients by improving staff hand hygiene.
Results of a three-year study by the Auckland District Health Board have been published in the New Zealand Medical Journal.
The Health Quality and Safety Commission says the annual cost of treating patients with infections picked up in hospital is at least $140 million and better hand hygiene is key to reducing it.
Auckland District Health Board says it began a programme in 2009 to educate and promote hand hygiene among its staff, who boosted their overall compliance with a World Health Organisation hand hygiene process markedly.
It says this has reduced the rate of hospital-acquired infections but better hygiene is still needed and it will require commitment and leadership.
The commission says it is expecting all district health boards to do more to improve hand hygiene in hospitals.