How to catch a doctor … dirty handed

By: January 26th, 2011 Email This Post Print This Post

Big brother is watching doctors, nurses, and any caregivers who don’t wash their hands before interacting with patients. Caregivers wear a special badge on their lab coats or scrubs, which turns a dark shade of red if components in the doors, soap dispensers, and near beds signal that healthcare providers have not followed proper hand hygiene.

The University of Massachusetts Medical School teamed up with Elke Rundensteiner, a computer science professor at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) in Worcester, MA, to design a system to monitor healthcare workers on their hand-washing protocols, reports The Worcester Telegram & Gazette. The system will be piloted in the next month and will monitor healthcare workers in patient rooms in intensive care units.

When the technology tracks healthcare workers not washing their hands, the badge turns red and data is instantly relayed to the nurses station and other computers, some of which are at WPI. Rundensteiner observes patterns and can send out emails or instant messages to alert someone to watch healthcare workers who aren’t washing their hands.

Do you think this is an effective way to help workers comply with hand hygiene policies, or does it smack of a “gotcha!” approach? Let us know in our comment section.


By Linda Joy K on January 26th, 2011 at 11:59 am

I would much rather catch people doing something right! Let the system recognize when hand hygiene is taking place, reward those employees. When hand hygiene has not taken place, you can counsel privately and let them know lack of hand hygiene was noted because the system did not pick up hand hygiene when it should have been occurring.

By Ajaz Fakhri on January 26th, 2011 at 10:40 pm

I think we need to still waite for better technology who can capture hand hygine
compliances as well as non compiances.

One way of doing it to reward of coffe vautcher to staff who remind his colleague about hand hygiene.In this way you will encourage health care worker to be vigilant and also track the staff who are non compliant-Did any of you tried this method

Yes, it smacks of “big brother” watching you. But every healthcare professional knows the importance of hand hygiene and yet we know it doesn’t happen. Providers (all types) take short cuts and ultimately put patients at risk.

If personal responsibility doesn’t work, then the ‘big brother’ approach needs to take over. Patient safety is a priority.

As much as I don’t like the “gotcha” factor..a little dose of reality (and fear of humiliation) for some staff (nurse, doctor, housekeeper alike) can go a long way!

By Bob Steele R.R.T. on February 2nd, 2011 at 4:03 pm

Have a bell that goes “ding” and eventually you’ll have the lab tech start salivating.

By Antony Shannon on February 6th, 2011 at 5:20 pm

Not sure how this would ensur ecompliance as no learning seems to be attached to it. However, as a gold auditor for the NZ National Hand Hygiene programme I love it and would introduce it in a flash – if I felt it would work? But is nice to see new thoughts and ideas coming forward.

By Sherry Edwards on February 9th, 2011 at 4:56 pm

I think the concept is great. It really does not need any education attached. Everyone who has entered the healthcare field KNOWS the importance of hand washing. Employees just get lazy and take short cuts. After being caught and warned about the at risk behavior an employee should be sent home without pay and then terminated if the problem persist. We have got to start holding these offenders accountable for their actions.

This sounds like an effective system to help drive hand hygiene compliance.
I also believe in “catching people doing it right”. We have practiced this with a “You’ve Been Spotted” reward system and Quarterly Champion awards for over 4 years. This has brought our hand hygiene compliance rates above the national averages but now it doesn’t seem to budge any higher.
At this point it is time to implement a behavior modification program – something like the one mentioned above – to help break those bad habits some individuals have developed. I would love to test this product.


Leave a Comment


« | Home | »

Subscribe - Get blog updates via e-mail

  • test
  • HCPro Broadcast Events Calendar