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Infection Control

Hospitals tracking hand hygiene

April 26, 2011
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WASHINGTON — Many hospitals across the country are looking in to a technological alternative to the "secret shopper" method of observing the hand hygiene habits of resident doctors and nurses, according to American Medical News.

Health professionals'' rate of compliance with hand hygiene guidelines, which are set by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO), ranges from 40 percent to 50 percent nationally, the article stated.

According to the article, relying on "secret shoppers" to track whether health professionals clean their hands before entering a patient room and wash up after leaving is problematic.

"You might not see behind closed doors where people are washing their hands," said Steven M. Gordon, MD, president of the Society for Health care Epidemiology of America.

"Sometimes people know they''re being watched. Under surveillance, health professionals may behave differently than they would routinely," said Susan Pacheco, MD, director of infection control at the University of Illinois Medical Center in Chicago.

Some hospitals are opting for a high-tech approach, like the HyGreen system, which uses technology originally developed to detect alcohol on the breath to sense the alcohol in gels and soaps on health professionals'' hands, the article noted.

If alcohol is detected, an infrared signal sent to the doctor''s or nurse''s badge turns on a green light: A monitor at the head of the bed senses the badge, and if a professional has not washed up and enters a seven-foot zone near the monitor, the badge will vibrate as a reminder, the article added.

Click here to read the complete article.

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