The hand hygiene game

By: May 6th, 2009 Email This Post Print This Post

A couple weeks ago I blogged about infection control violations at Boston-based Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

Whether they are simply trying to re-polish their good name, or find more entertaining ways to clamp down on compliance after Department of Health citations, the facility has come up with a way to adhere to hand hygiene compliance through competition.

At least that’s what hospital president and CEO Paul Levy describes on his blog “Running a hospital.” Levy says his emergency department (ED) staff came up with a “good humored use of peer pressure among a group of doctors who tend to be really good at noticing things.”

The game is “tag,” and it follows all of the same rules you used as a kid… sort of. Basically an employee who fails to follow patient safety mandates will have their name show up on the hospitals computer system using a banner function.  Levy explains it in his post:

“In order to remain vigilant about hand hygiene, patient contact etc. we will be implementing a game of tag. At the beginning of each core shift the ED Attending will clear the banner, and during that shift if a person (ED MD) is caught or “tagged” violating a patient safety mandate, their name will be placed on the banner as being “it” until they ID another MD who failed to meet hand hygiene, documentation or other targets. If at the end of a shift the “it” person has not been able to ID another MD who has violated the rules, the banner will be cleared and started again.”

Coincidentally, the program just began on May 1st, and the post has already received a number of comments from (judging from their context) other hospital employees who seem to like the program.

Certainly it brings up an interesting and inventive way to enforce hand hygiene compliance, a process that can often come off as nagging rather than helpful. It also seems like something that could easily be transferred to smaller ambulatory surgery centers, or physician offices simply by using a white board.

I’ve heard of hospitals appointing one or two people as “secret shoppers” to monitor hand hygiene compliance, but something that forces the entire staff to watch each other seems much more efficient.

What do you think? How would your staff members react to this kind of “game”?


By Judy Nuland on May 6th, 2009 at 10:29 am

Ths could work in any setting not just health care. food industry etc. Great idea!!

By Maggie Lebo, Rn on May 6th, 2009 at 4:44 pm

How about the person who is “it” at the end of the shift/day has to buy donuts/bagles the following day. Perhaps some other punishment that would benefit the staff.

By Kimberly on May 7th, 2009 at 9:29 am

I agree this is a great way to have everyone watching out, but there does need to be some sort of punishment for being the last one on the banner at the end of the night. Otherwise it is really defeating the purpose and might turn into a game of fun instead of what it started out being used for.

Thank you for such amazing information……If you love hygiene just like me……Please check out the blog mentioned below, its really informative !!!!….. check it out m sure you’ll love it

By JP RN, BSN on August 14th, 2009 at 1:09 am

There really should be some sort of tally and either incentive for those with the least and/or re-education for those with the most. Just singling out the LAST person on the list means nothing.

It’s so sad to see that we have to find some cute way to get people to do THE BASICS OF THE JOB they are getting paid to perform. Maybe airline pilots and mechanics should come up with little games to make them not crash planes into things. The real problem here is lack of proper supervision and intelligent leadership.

Wake Up America, there is a crisis in healthcare and its name is “Ignorance & Apathy”.

Then again, sometimes there are so few PCAs that a patient could go a week without being asked if they need new bed linens or need help to bath. It seems hospitals make no priority to staff the wards with enough people to check for more than a pulse and to keep the IVs running.

By Sheryl Alvernaz on February 9th, 2020 at 3:13 am

In this day of corona virus sars etc and having a brother who is dying as a result of poor hospital hygiene as well as others, I would say that this is not enough!!! The person needs to be quarantined ie off work until it’s proven they didn’t catch something communicable. That is a much strong motivator and, fairer to patients!


Leave a Comment


« | Home | »

Subscribe - Get blog updates via e-mail

  • test
  • HCPro Broadcast Events Calendar