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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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The New Legal Look at Handwashing

“quality controls … to safeguard consumer and employee health.”

2016 is starting out as a potential watershed for hospital, nursing home and foodservice handwashing. Two high profile Norovirus outbreaks at Chipotle restaurants in 2015 were followed by two legal actions and a 35% drop in Chipotle’s stock price. Controlling Norovirus is highly dependent on good handwashing.

A Simi Valley California law suit was followed by a devastating New York District Court action raised by a concerned stockholder for failing to disclose that its “quality controls were inadequate to safeguard consumer and employee health.”

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The 5 Handwashing Hurdles

Sixteen years of formal and informal research has provided the Handwashing For Life Institute with a long list of reasons and excuses for low handwashing rates. Today caregivers may hear of their compliance rate being reported at 90% but in their heart of hearts know it is far short of the reported number.

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Advancing Compliance Monitoring

Stepping down the risk by stepping up the technology


Culture change is the only way Handwashing For Life Healthcare has found to convert time-hardened handwashing behaviors. Years of accepting low compliance now defines today's reality. Whatcha got is … who you are!

Years of training have produced waves of temporary peaks in performance. Training without standards has proven to be both frustrating and costly as gains slip back to the undeclared norm.

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The Joint Commission Resets Handwashing Compliance

Continuous improvement trumps the mythical “90%”

The shortage of actual data on handwashing compliance in healthcare has evolved into a serious industry-wide overstatement of compliance. Knowing good things happen once a 90% level is achieved, reported handwashing rates quickly climbed to that number.

Professional advancement and even bonuses are “earned”, institutionalizing a standard of bad behaviors.  The Joint Commission's norm is clearly stated in their Comprehensive Accreditation Manual for Hospitals. It says nothing about 90%.

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A Successful Culture Change Doubles Handwashing Rates

Data plus leadership records sustainable gains in handwashing behaviors.

Culture change is often cited as a requirement where hand washing rates need to be doubled to reach a safe level. The Atrio Restaurant in Carmel, Indiana, lead by Chef Peter Fulgenzi, took on that task, challenging his staff to accept their professional role in serving safe food and giving them a measurement tool to verify handwashing without filling in tedious logs.

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A Final Touch Like No Other

Multi-emitter UV-C is like a dry disinfectant final step from the bed to the bathroom.

For years, we listened to the arguments as UV-C emitters appeared on the scene, critical about shadowed areas and lack of clinical data. Then we watched and listened, realizing UV-C is not a stand-alone solution. Manual cleaning is the first and irreplaceable step with appropriate cleaner disinfectants and quality single-use paper towels followed by the UV treatment.

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