Electronic hand-hygiene monitoring cuts MRSA rates by nearly half


Electronic monitoring of healthcare workers’ hand-washing habits cuts Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infection rates by 42 percent, according to a study published in the American Journal of Infection Control.

Researchers at Greenville (South Carolina) Health System analyzed hand- hygiene compliance data from an electronic monitoring system in 23 inpatient units between July 2012 and March 2015. They found that under the system, in addition to a 42 percent drop in MRSA infection rates, compliance rates increased by 25.5 percent. Furthermore, the organization saved approximately $434,000 in "avoided care" costs that it would have provided to patients who contracted a hospital-acquired infection because clinicians failed to wash their hands. 

The monitoring system incorporates more stringent World Health Organization guidelines because it logs more opportunities for hand-hygiene compliance than systems that only track hand-hygiene before and after patient contact, researchers noted.

"This breakthrough research proves that real-time electronic monitoring of hand-hygiene compliance based on the WHO Five Moments can lead to clinically important organizational change and improved patient safety," lead author J. William Kelly, M.D., an infectious disease specialist at Greenville, said in a statement.

The findings come just two months after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention launched a new hand-hygiene campaign aimed at both at workers and patients, FierceHealthcare previously reported. The initiative enlists patients by encouraging them to ask clinicians to wash their hands. Research shows on-the-spot intervention can be a major booster of compliance.

- read the study abstract
- here’s the statement