Case study: Beth Israel Deaconess uses 'tag' game to boost hand washing

Seeing to it that nurses, doctors, techs and attending physicians all wash their hands is a monumental task. Often, sanctions against those who violate hand washing rules aren't effective, as busy clinicians may still forget, regardless of the punishment.

At Boston's Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital, however, they're trying a lighter-hearted approach to improving hand washing rates. Leaders within the hospital's emergency department have started a game in which each person tries to spot someone else failing to wash their hands between patient contacts. When a staff member sees someone miss a hand washing, that person gets "tagged."  Then the words "Tag. 'So-and-so' is it" appear on the dashboard banner of all monitors throughout the hospital.

By the rules of the game, no one is sanctioned for getting tagged, but there is a monthly award for staff members who tag the most frequently.

To date, hospital executives said, staff members have embraced the game, which doesn't seem to be creating tensions.

To learn more about the game:
- read this Health Leaders Media piece

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