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Format: 04/24/2014
Format: 04/24/2014

News

AGH Study of Technology That Monitors Handwashing Compliance of Healthcare Professionals Receives Grant Support

Monday, January 3rd, 2011

For the second consecutive year, a novel research project at Allegheny General Hospital (AGH) exploring the efficacy of an electronic device that monitors the hand hygiene compliance of healthcare workers has received funding support from the Verizon Foundation. Verizon’s 2010 grant of $24,800 matches its previous contribution to the project, which has also been supported with generous grants from the Suburban Health Foundation and the AGH Auxiliary. 

Pioneered by Andrew Sahud, MD, Chairman of the Infection Prevention Committee at AGH, and modeled after technology used in turnpike toll booths, the Semmelweis Hand Hygienometer is a pager-size data receptor worn by an employee that communicates with a monitor attached to patient room entry ways and adjacent soap dispensers to assess hand hygiene practices among doctors and nurses.

The device allows workers to check their compliance rates in “real time” by inspecting the device readout screen. Additionally, participants will upload their data at scheduled intervals by logging onto a web site, allowing them to view their compliance rate over time and assess their performance in comparison to their peers.

"We sincerely thank the Verizon Foundation, the Suburban Health Foundation and the AGH Auxiliary for their generous contributions in support of this innovative technology, which could make a significant impact on efforts to prevent infection and save lives," said Drew S. Keys, Vice President, Development, AGH.

“Verizon is proud to improve the quality of life for families in Allegheny County by empowering health care professionals with innovative technology, tools and resources,” said William B. Carnahan, Vice President- External Affairs, Verizon Pennsylvania. “We’re investing in programs, such as our partnership with AGH, to touch people's lives by focusing on education, health and family safety in the 21st century.”

According to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, hand hygiene remains the single most effective way of stopping the spread of hospital acquired infections, yet compliance rates among healthcare professionals nationwide are generally low. Studies show that just 35-40 percent of healthcare professionals follow recommended hand hygiene protocols.

An effective system of monitoring hand hygiene and enforcing accountability by empowering healthcare providers with their own data could significantly increase hand hygiene rates, Dr. Sahud said.

“Our device is unique in that it acts like a hand hygiene pedometer. We believe this approach will increase awareness, motivate clinicians, and be more readily embraced by the medical community. Our goal is to make hand hygiene habitual and automatic,” said Dr. Sahud.

“As hospitals and healthcare workers confront increasingly virulent strains of bacteria, there is a sense of urgency among physicians and institutions to address these complications and reduce the rates of transmission,” Dr. Sahud said. “Innovative ideas are desperately needed to improve hand hygiene compliance, reduce infection rates and save lives.”

“We hope this study will show that a hospital based hand hygiene monitoring system will ultimately lead to better infection control.”

The Semmelweis Hand Hygienometer uses radio frequency technology that was developed in the 1930s and now widely used in interstate highway toll collection (EZ-Pass), parking garages and retail inventory tracking.

The device is named for Ignaz Semmelweis, who in 1846 instituted hand hygiene as a means of limiting the spread of puerperal fever in Vienna.

A 2009 pilot study conducted at AGH demonstrated the Semmelweis Hand Hygienometer’s potential to improve hand hygiene rates.

Dr. Sahud said he is extremely grateful to the Verizon and Suburban Health Foundations for their commitment to patient care quality and for enabling AGH to move forward with its more comprehensive study of the Semmelweis Hand Hygienometer technology.

 

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