Measuring Healthcare Worker Hand Hygiene Activity: Current Practices and Emerging Technologies

  • Boyce J
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Monitoring hand hygiene compliance and providing healthcare workers with feedback regarding their performance are considered integral parts of multidisciplinary hand hygiene improvement programs. Observational surveys conducted by trained personnel are currently considered the “gold standard” method for establishing compliance rates, but they are time-consuming and have a number of shortcomings. Monitoring hand hygiene product consumption is less time-consuming and can provide useful information regarding the frequency of hand hygiene that can be used to give caregivers feedback. Electronic counting devices placed in hand hygiene product dispensers provide detailed information about hand hygiene frequency over time, by unit and during interventions. Electronic hand hygiene monitoring systems that utilize wireless systems to monitor room entry and exit of healthcare workers and their use of hand hygiene product dispensers can provide individual and unit-based data on compliance with the most common hand hygiene indications. Some systems include badges (tags) that can provide healthcare workers with real-time reminders to clean their hands upon entering and exiting patient rooms. Preliminary studies suggest that use of electronic monitoring systems is associated with increased hand hygiene compliance rates and that such systems may be acceptable to care givers. Although there are many questions remaining about the practicality, accuracy, cost, and long-term impact of electronic monitoring systems on compliance rates, they appear to have considerable promise for improving our efforts to monitor and improve hand hygiene practices among healthcare workers.

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  • John M. Boyce

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