Electronic hand hygiene system fails to improve staff satisfaction in ICU

22nd of March 2019
Electronic hand hygiene system fails to improve staff satisfaction in ICU

An electronic hand hygiene monitoring system employed in a tertiary care teaching hospital has been criticised for being both inaccurate and inconvenient.

The system, which was introduced into the ICU unit of an unnamed US hospital, was designed to detect healthcare staff's movements in patient areas and provide alerts on missed hand hygiene opportunities.

A network of radiofrequency transmitters in patient areas, on hand hygiene dispensers and on personal bracelets were connected to a central computer which continually collected real-time data on how frequently hand washing procedures were being carried out. Meanwhile, a human observer performed the same function.

However, a staff satisfaction questionnaire following the study revealed that 51 per cent of staff were unhappy with the system.

"Despite initial enthusiasm for the electronic HH system, this soon changed to disappointment and subsequently to unwillingness to continue with its use," write the study authors.

"The ICU staff appreciated the need for hand hygiene improvement but 76 per cent were disappointed by the system's poor performance. And 44 per cent complained about the inconvenience of wearing the required bracelet."

The system was found to consistently underestimate staff performance and opportunities for hand hygiene when compared with the human observer's findings. And the weekly summary of hand hygiene compliance was also deemed to be largely inaccurate.

The study authors concluded that any future electronic hand hygiene system would need to be highly accurate and also comfortable to use in order for to succeed.



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