Technology Offers Real-Time Monitoring of Hand Washing

Carrie Vaughan, for HealthLeaders Media , June 9, 2009

So what do clinicians think about the technology? Aside from a little concern about having to wear yet another badge, nurses have been receptive to it, says Richard Reed, nurse manager at Shands neuro-intensive care unit. Anything that healthcare clinicians can do to prevent infection will be positively received, adds Jeanette Hester, the clinical coordinator for Shands neuro-intensive care unit. "Direct healthcare providers want to do the right thing, even if that means they have to wear a bulky badge," says Hester.

The technology does provide healthcare organizations the flexibility to set the time requirement and the range of the sensors to meet the workflow patterns of individual care settings. Shands determined that eight feet still allowed nurses who were not doing direct patient care to peek and check monitors without being buzzed, while at the same time ensuring that any clinician caring for the patient and potentially touching bed rails or equipment had washed hands. The 90 second window was set to ensure that caregivers wouldn't forget to rewash hands if they were interrupted by a page and talked on the phone or left the room after initially washing hands. "A lot of times we are doing things on the fly, and it has increased awareness," says Reed.

"The nice part was that our numbers were better than when we had done observational studies," says Hester, adding that the bigger denominator showed staff members were more compliant that the health system originally thought. "It actually benefited clinicians to get the data back," she says.

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Carrie Vaughan is a senior editor with HealthLeaders magazine. She can be reached at

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