Electronic hand hygiene monitoring cuts MRSA rates by 42%

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Use of an electronic hand hygiene monitoring system decreased the rate of healthcare-acquired MRSA infections in one health system by 42%, research shows.

Investigators with the Greenville Health System in Greenville, SC, used data collected by an electronic compliance system to track how healthcare workers adhered to the World Health Organization's Five Moments hand hygiene guidelines.

Results showed that compliance rates increased 25.5% when the electronic system was used, and the organization's rate of healthcare-associated MRSA infections dropped 42%. That infection decrease saved the provider nearly $434,000 in total care costs between July 2012 and March 2015.

“Integrating a validated technology capable of tracking WHO Five Moments behavior in our processes provided us with actionable feedback to drive staff behavior change that resulted in increased hand hygiene compliance and decreased infection rates,” said lead investigator J. William Kelly, M.D., an infectious disease specialist at GHS.

The study also helped GHS move away from a direct observation method of capturing hand hygiene behavior that omitted handwashing events that occurred in patient rooms.

“Studies show that healthcare workers behave differently when being observed, with one recent national study showing a threefold increase in hand-hygiene compliance when healthcare workers were observed as compared to when unobserved,” noted Connie Steed, MSN, RN, CIC, study co-author and director of infection prevention at GHS.

The GHS team's findings appear in the American Journal of Infection Control.