Monday, November 28, 2011

Hospital adopts new technology to monitor hand-washing

Hospitals use various methods to monitor hand-washing by staff; some methods measure the volume of soap and disinfectant hand gel used while others employ "secret shoppers" to observe hand-washing activities. 

North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset, N.Y. is the first hospital to adopt a new video monitoring technology to track hand-washing.  The video monitor technology is made a by Arrowsight.  The technology relies on a network of sensors that monitor entrance activity around doors and a series of cameras mounted on ceilings above sinks and hand sanitizing stations both in and outside patient rooms.  Arrowsight employees monitor the footage to track whether staff wash their hands within 10 seconds of passing through the door.

The rates are published daily on large L.E.D. displays in the hallways and serve as a constant reminder to the staff.  The nurse manager also gets e-mail messages throughout the day with detailed information about hand-washing rates.

The new video monitoring technology was implemented in the surgical and medical intensive care units (ICUs).  ICUs typically have the lowest hand-washing rates because the staff there are the most harried due to large volume of patients and that most patients in ICUs are in serious medical conditions.  Since adopting the technology three years ago, both ICUs have achieved and sustained better results than before.  The medical ICU in particular, improved its hand-washing rates from 6.5% three years ago to over 80%.

Read the article in The New York Times

Abstract to North Shore's study published in Clinical Infectious Diseases