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Handwashing Data Does Drive Down HAI Rates

Mike Mann's picture

Don’t let research-reading-fatigue blur this game-changer

It is commonly accepted that increased hand hygiene compliance can reduce HAI rates. There is an abundance of evidence that electronic monitoring of hand hygiene does increase compliance but this study goes that important step into new territory.

"An automated hand hygiene compliance system is associated with decreased rates of health care-associated infections.” This is the headline in a research summary published in the American Journal of Infection Control. Moving to the study’s Conclusion, "These findings suggest that monitoring HH practices with an automated system, in addition to other infection control measures, may be an effective means of reducing HAIs.”

We suggest you read this study in its entirety and take your recommendation to your C-suite for review. Please be sure Patient Safety and Risk Management are involved.

The hospital’s CEO and even their Board of Directors need to understand the potential impact of investing in handwash monitoring. They need numbers to be able to prioritize major investments. Handwashing vs UVC-Terminal Cleaning for instance. Which will save more lives? Investments should be based first on saving lives.

1.)  If more information on the connection between e-monitoring and hand hygiene frequency is needed, these two studies can be particularly helpful: "An automated hand hygiene compliance system is associated with improved monitoring of hand hygiene”, published on May 1, 2017 in the AJIC Volume 45, Issue 5, Pages 492–497,

From the Discussion section, "The immediate feedback provided by the badges resulted in a highly incentivized behavior and ultimately may have led to a conditioned or learned response."

2.) “ Durable improvement in hand hygiene compliance following implementation of an automated observation system with visual feedback, published on March 1, 2017 in the AJIC, Volume 45, Issue 3, Pages 311–313,

Note in this study’s Discussion section, "Measured compliance was significantly lower during the year
the HHCS was active compared with the human observers.” This likely indicates that the Observation-Method reporting was significantly inaccurate as commonly witnessed throughout the industry.