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Hospitals install spying cameras to track hand washing rates among medical workers

Wednesday, December 21, 2011 by: Jonathan Benson, staff writer
Tags: hospitals, hand washing, spy cameras

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(NaturalNews) Roughly 100,000 people die every year from hospital-acquired infections, and many of these could be prevented if more medical workers simply remembered to wash and sanitize their hands throughout the day, say experts. One way some hospitals are drastically increasing hand washing rates is by installing video monitoring systems that constantly film sinks and alcohol sanitizing stations, and report footage back to nurses throughout the day.

North Shore University Hospital (NSUH) in Manhasset, NY, is one of only a few hospitals that has decided to take this more drastic measure to increase hygiene levels among medical workers -- but it is one that has had incredible success. According to a controlled, peer-reviewed study on the hospital's video monitoring system recently published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases, watching employees through the Big Brother-esque video monitoring system has increased the overall hand washing rate by nearly 1400 percent, taking it from 6.5 percent to nearly 88 percent.

The way it works is that medical workers, and primarily those that work in intensive care units (ICU), are given ten seconds to wash or sanitize their hands every time they enter or exit a patient's room. If medical workers successfully clean their hands within that ten-second window, the action is logged into the system as a success -- but if they fail, the action is logged as a failure. The results are then compiled and displayed on LED panels located across from the nurse stations throughout the day.

"They look at the rates," said Isabel Law, nurse manager of the surgical ICU at NSUH, to The New York Times concerning the display of the hospital's hygiene rates for all to see. "It becomes a positive competition. Seeing 'Great Shift!!' is important. It's human nature that we all want to do well. Now we have a picture to see how we're doing."

Similar programs have been experimented with at various other hospitals, but most of them have generally had less overall success. One such program utilizes a system that "sniffs" workers hands to detect the presence of alcohol from alcohol-based sanitizers whenever they enter or leave a room. Another involves simply measuring the levels of soap and alcohol in dispensers at the end of each day compared with at the beginning.

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