Electronic monitoring helps nurses boost hand-washing compliance

Electronic monitoring helped to dramatically improve hand hygiene among nurses in Canada, according to research published this month in the journal Computers, Informatics, Nursing.

For the study, researchers developed the system--which automatically detected hand hygiene opportunities and recorded hygiene actions--and installed it at the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute. Badges worn by 14 nurses that were connected with sensors in patient areas buzzed whenever the nurses failed to wash their hands.

The study was divided into three phases, according to the researchers:

  1. An inactive mode during the first phase when hand hygiene opportunities and actions were recorded but prompting and visual indication functions were disabled
  2. A second mode in which only hand hygiene status indicators were enabled
  3. A third mode in which both hand hygiene status and real-time hand hygiene prompting signals were enabled

During the first stage, nurses should have washed their hands 8.9 times per hour, but only washed their hands 2.97 times per hour. Once the reminder function was turned on, hand-washing compliance increased to 6.6 hand washings per hour.

Despite nurses being the focus of this study, a study published earlier this month in The Lance Infectious Diseases determined that nurses are better about washing their hands than doctors. The study examined the effectiveness of the educational initiative of the World Health Organization's hand-hygiene program. So far the five-step strategy has been implemented at more than 15,700 healthcare settings in 168 countries worldwide. Researchers looked at 43 hospitals in Costa Rica, Italy, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Africa.

Last year, FierceMobileHealthcare reported on a hand-washing compliance system based on the touchscreen concept of capacitive touch technology. It employs a near-field monitoring sensor that reads the electrical field that runs across the surface of a patient's skin. When another person touches the patient, it disturbs this field, and that disturbance can be detected and monitored.

To learn more:
- here's the study's abstract

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