A recent study published in the American Journal of Infection Control has shown that ‘electronic hand hygiene monitoring improves compliance with the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) five movements for hand hygiene recommendations’.
Director of infection prevention at Greenville Health System (South Carolina) and study co-author, Connie Steed said that this is the first study she has seen that “directly correlates using hand hygiene electronic monitoring with reducing infection and improving patient outcomes.”
“The gold standard for improving hand hygiene has been direct observation. However, observation bias, also known as the Hawthorne effect, means that people tend to change their behaviour when they are being observed,” explained Ms Steed.
The study, which was conducted between July 2012 and March 2015, used technology from DebMed to electronically monitor hand hygiene.
‘Sensors were attached to hand sanitising and hand washing units in 23 inpatient facilities’ which relayed information to a server each time a unit was used. ‘An algorithm then calculated whether or not staff were following the WHO’s recommended standards’.
‘The study found an increase in hand hygiene compliance of 25.5 per cent, a decrease in hospital-acquired methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus of 42 per cent and reduction in costs of US $434,000 (AUD $577,473)’.
“Although the importance of hand hygiene has been understood since the 1800s, it has been a challenge to measure its effects,” said Ms Steed.
“The importance of hand hygiene is frequently overlooked, and it’s a simplistic process that doesn’t cost much money but can have a tremendous influence.”