The device could greatly reduce the number of hospital acquired infections nationwide since most are transmitted through contact due to poor hand-washing practice.
The VCU Medical Center was chosen as a study site because of its higher-than-average rate of hand hygiene compliance, nearly twice the national average. The sensor is worn like a name badge and is programmed to detect the presence of ethyl alcohol, the most common ingredient in hand cleansing solutions used in hospitals.
When a health care worker enters a patient's room, a small, wall-mounted sensor sends a signal to the badge to check for the presence of alcohol. The worker places their hands near the badge to obtain a reading. Lights on the badge glow red if no alcohol is present, indicating the need to wash hands. A green light indicates alcohol is present.
Experts say nearly 2 million hospital-acquired infections occur each year, resulting in about 5,000 deaths and more than 90,000 illnesses. Research shows that simple hand washing by medical staff could cut the number of infections in half.
"Health care workers don't deliberately avoid washing their hands; they get distracted or are so busy moving from one thing to the next they don't remember to do it," said Mike Edmond, M.D., chief hospital epidemiologist, and principal investigator of the study. "Until now, the only way we've been able to track hand washing habits is through direct observation. This new system continuously monitors and records data and serves as a constant reminder."
MEDICA.de; Source: Virginia Commonwealth University