Washing Your Hands While Being Under Digital Surveillance

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imageOver 90,000 deaths occur annually due to hospital acquired infections. Most of these deaths could be prevented with simple solutions, like adequate hand washing. An innovative technology called Hyginex seeks to assist healthcare workers everywhere in ensuring they are meeting the standards for hand hygiene. To view a demo of Hyginex click here.

Every healthcare worker knows the importance of adequate hand hygiene. Unfortunately there are many nurses, doctors, and other healthcare workers who do not wash their hands as often or as long as is required to adequately protect patients from the potentially deadly viruses and bacteria that exist in hospitals everyday. And it’s not that we’re not all trying. We strive to provide the best care possible and take care of our patients properly. We all know this means proper hand hygiene.

imageBut sometimes it’s difficult to remember to wash your hands every time. A nurse may think “I do don’t need to wash my hands now. I’m just moving a patient in the bed.” But really nurses should be washing their hands every time they enter a patient’s room. And perhaps it’s not even that we don’t think we need to. Perhaps we just got distracted before we remembered to wash our hands?

Enter Hyginex. This nifty little healthcare technology will sound and alarm vibrate via a band on your arm if you do not wash you hands before caring for a patients. Talk about accountability!

imageIsraeli startup company, Hyginex, has developed a simple system to reduce healthcare risks around hospitals and medical practices. The company has created digital bracelets that work alongside sensor-embedded soap dispensers to detect if the user has washed their hands properly. The non-intrusive bracelet has a tiny red LED light to also remind the medical practitioner to wash their hands between patients.

The technology works via a wireless connection and the hygiene regime is tracked and passed on to hospital managers. According to the CDC, poor hand hygiene lead to infections that are responsible for over 90,000 deaths per year in the U.S., a cost of over $30 billion.

Efrat Raichman founded Hyginex in 2008 after his uncle contracted an infection in a hospital and passed away. He believes that the bracelet will not only save lives, but also save the healthcare system a lot of money.

Many nurses may feel that this technology is a little invasive. While I must admit, it is a little Big-Brother-ish, I actually think this would be a fantastic tool to increase compliance in hand washing. Yes nurses and doctors alike may complain, but what if even just one life was saved by this technology? What about the millions of dollars that could be saved and spent other places in healthcare? Think of the good that could come of increase compliance with hand washing.

Video surveillance systems in hospitals have helped to boost hand washing compliance to levels of 80% (with the norm being around 40%). The Hyginex solution would not only increase compliance by providing surveillance, it would automatically record data and provide feedback to healthcare workers. So nurses and others wouldn’t just feel like they were being spied on. They would actually be getting results and feedback on their performance.

source PSFK: http://www.psfk.com/2012/08/digital-hygiene-bracelet.html#ixzz24KjXHO4R


What are your thoughts on hand washing surveillance equipment?

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4 thoughts on “Washing Your Hands While Being Under Digital Surveillance”

  1. I think the tool would be more useful if we fix underlying issues such as staffing and other resources, (available sinks, soap etc) FIRST. If we try to control something without fixing the underlying problem(S) then we may fix one thing, but create another problem. If I don’t wash my hands because the sink is in another room, or a patient has been waiting and waiting and waiting for pain medicine, or an IV pump is going off, or I’ve been told that I can’t have any more overtime, and we institute something like this, then, ok, I’ll probably wash my hands more, but something else will have to give!!!

    I’m also concerned about adding another “alarm” to our already extremely stressful work environments.

    1. Beth,

      I’ll admit, I didn’t realize there were facilities that didn’t have available sinks/supplies in order to meet the needs. I do agree, that those barriers need to be addressed first.

      But I believe that the 20 seconds it takes to wash your hands prior to administering pain medication or silencing and alarm should be done.
      If you explain to the patient why you are doing it while you do it, they will understand and be thankful for it in the long run.

  2. Phew, talk about accountability is right. I can’t argue the issue of hospital acquired infections, all the data is right there. Added the issue of medicare not covering the bill that could easily run up multiple tens of thousands (hence the photo shoot on admission if someone catches that funky looking spot… werk-it!) I can see how hospitals would be interested in investing and installing an entirely new infrastructure such as this, more bottom line than anything.

    I’m all for accountability, but I wish nurses didn’t bare the brunt of this. I wish there was some degree of accountability that was rightfully put onto the patient, but as the current customer based model stands, I just can’t see it.

    This reminded me of some convos’ I’ve had lately…

    Since I got my new grad job (yay-me) I started asking around, partly curiosity, partly legit concern; regarding how male nurses deal with peri, foley etc care on their female patients.

    Accountability.. it’s pessimistic on my part but all I need is one patient with an issue to throw out an accusation of sexual misconduct and my career could be over.

    Most answered “chaperone, every time” some said they outright refused to do downstairs stuff and had an arrangement with a coworker. No one said they were comfortable going alone, unsupervised, willing to put their word against a customer.

    Back to hand hygiene, pt accountability etc, if my patient picks their nose then proceeds to pick their wound, all the sensors in the world are going to avoid that infection. (Insert more scenarios of patients being grody here).

    What I would like to see, (aka, never gonna happen) is cameras IN patient rooms, they are already all over the hallways and work areas eye-balling us. Sure it’s an invasion of privacy, but two weeks ago I went through my first body scanner at the airport, I had to laugh that there is now a nudie pic of me in some government database. The reality of recordings is, unless there is an issue no one wants to see your stuff , same would go for the hospital. If a patient is being nasty with infection control issues, im sure the billing department would love to know. But not thats not how it works, they are all little angels with halo’s filling out their customer satisfaction surveys.

    So yea, I think tech like this could reduce infections, and I’m all for that. Some of the overall problems this tech is trying address, accountability, litigation, reimbursements, buck$.. yet again rightfully or wrongfully, places the burden on the nurse.

    1. Dan,

      This sort of technology should not be limited, by any means, to just nurses. All healthcare workers who are involved in direct patient contact should be held to the same standards.

      I do disagree with having the patient be accountable for telling the nurse to wash their hands. Many patients are far to sick to lift their head up and say “Hey you! Wash your hands!” I can attest to the fact that during my recent hospitalization, there were times that I couldn’t open my eyes and speak, must less monitor a nurses (or any others) hand washing.

      I also don’t agree with camera’s in the patient’s rooms. It’s humiliating enough to have a healthcare worker see you naked, dirty, and at their mercy. Do you really want that on film for the world to potentially see?
      I don’t think patient’s should be subjected to any more humiliating than they already face.
      I’ve been there, recently, too sick to bathe. Too sick to lift my head and I was at the mercy of those nurses. I would shudder to think that some of the darkest moments of my life were on film somewhere for someone to potentially gawk at.

      I agree that many of these initiatives are wrongfully placed on the patient’s shoulder.
      However, they’re the patient’s advocate and should be the first to realize the need for these measures in order to provide the best care possible.
      I think if we provided proper education about what it does, and why it’s important, that most nurses would understand and comply with minimal rebellion.

      And really, if someone doesn’t want to wear a bracelet to help remind them to wash their hands, to prevent the spread of infection, and to provide better overall patient care, do we really want them any the bedside anyways?
      What if your loved-one was infected by a nurse who simply forgot to wash their hands? You’d want them to have been more accountable, right?

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