New portable device tracks hand hygiene compliance among caregivers

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Technology that tracks caregivers' hand hygiene practices is proving effective at reducing costs and increasing compliance, according to the results of a recent pilot study.

Epidemiologists at the University of Iowa used new, energy-efficient "Zigbee" wireless technology to create the device. The small pager-sized tracking system records whether or not a caregiver uses a hand hygiene dispenser upon entering and exiting a patient's room. Data is recorded directly to the devices, and can then be automatically transferred to a larger system for analysis without any manual data entry. These new devices can help reduce the monetary and labor costs of manually recording data, while at the same time increasing compliance rates. Increasing compliance could reduce the occurrence of hospital-acquired infections, researchers say.

Researchers say the devices are 90% to 100% accurate, depending on the length of time spent in a patient room. Results of the pilot program were presented Wednesday at the annual meeting of the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America in San Diego.