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Ready for Norovirus

'Tis the season to be . . . washing your hands!

Great Britain uses a colorful name to describe norovirus as it went technically unclassified for years but its effects were well known, particularly in nursing homes. The "winter vomiting disease” takes its toll every year in a pattern now confirmed in this CDC slide.

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A New Handwash to Celebrate World Hand Hygiene Day

The SaniTwice® protocol is a special friend of bedridden patients

First developed for the military, this two step, cleanse-sanitize, protocol has found many applications in water-scarce situations beyond the deserts of the Middle East where is was first deployed. The latest “desert” is the bed of the bedridden patient. SaniTwice provides an uncompromisingly effective hand wash by using the hand sanitizer as a wash agent followed by a vigorous drying with a single-use paper towel. A followup application of the sanitizer according to label instructions kills remaining pathogens.

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Hospitals: 99,000 & Long-Term Care: 380,000

This headline is the CDC estimate of deaths caused by Healthcare Acquired Infections (HAI). They are rarely added. The math is easy, 479,000. The solution apparently is not.

When 100 people acquire a norovirus infection it makes front page news yet 479,000 annual HAI deaths goes by unnoticed. Here is another way to look at the scope of this issue.

USA overall annual deaths:

  1. Cancer 580,350
  2. Healthcare Acquired Infections (HAIs) 479,000
  3. Heart Disease 380,000
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Handwashing: "Not Observed"

Health department inspectors feed operator complacency

Handwashing is respected by most all caregivers to some degree, whether in the kitchens, patient areas or resident rooms. Lip service is at 100% while compliance is more likely around 25%-40%.

Check out this report sent our way from a Canadian experience that we believe may be widespread but unreported in the USA. We know of the common practice to check the handsinks for residual traces of water as an indicator of handwashing and deserving of a checked “yes” box in some jurisdictions.

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Visualization & Personalization Drive Handwashing Improvements

Germ theory comes to life by visualization and personalization of the poorly washed hand. A visual feedback explains why hands must be washed at least 10 seconds and preferably 15 or 20, depending on the contamination and the physical condition of the people under their care. This is the advantage in using the ProGrade Scorecard where a standard in quality of the handwash is established.

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Handwashing: Data to the Rescue

Electronic monitoring of handwashing reveals the risky reality

Suspected low handwashing rates are increasingly being confirmed with the aid of electronics. Potential brand damaging outbreaks threaten healthcare foodservice and restaurants but this recurring under-washed condition is rarely the topic of C-Suite discussions.

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