Hand hygiene goes high-tech at US hospital

19th of December 2011
Hand hygiene goes high-tech at US hospital

Healthcare workers who fail to wash their hands are being caught on camera at a hospital on New York's Long Island.

Surveillance cameras and sensors have been installed in the intensive care unit at North Shore University Hospital to monitor hand hygiene compliance. The sensors detect when a healthcare worker enters the ICU room and whether or not they have used a hand disinfectant.

"The idea was to change the culture of the nurses who work in the intensive care unit so that it became normal routine to wash their hands when going in and out of a room," said Billy Senecola, ICU manager at North Shore hospital.

The videos are sampled and sent via internet to a panel to assess hand hygiene levels, and real-time scoreboards are used to show staff how they are doing. If successful, the method may be extended to other areas of the hospital.

"Hand washing has been shown to be the backbone of infection control for the last 150 years," said Dr Bruce Farber of North Shore hospital. "We've gone from relatively low rates of compliance to incredibly high rates despite the fact that our definition of hand hygiene is much stricter."

The identity of staff is not disclosed in the film footage since the aim is to improve hand hygiene compliance in general, and not to single out individual employees.

The pilot scheme has led to increasing numbers of family members using hand disinfectants when the visiting patients, according to hospital chiefs.


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