In the Journals

Electronic monitoring system for hand hygiene reduces MRSA rates

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July 8, 2016

Researchers from South Carolina reported that electronic hand hygiene monitoring based on WHO’s My 5 Moments for Hand Hygiene led to a significant decrease in health care-associated MRSA infections.

J. William Kelly, MD

J. William Kelly

“There are very few studies connecting hand hygiene with patient outcomes, and we were able to show a direct correlation between increased compliance rates and a reduction in hospital-onset MRSA infections,” J. William Kelly, MD, infectious disease specialist at Greenville Health System and principal investigator of the study, told Infectious Disease News.

Kelly and colleagues analyzed data collected through the DebMed Electronic Hand Hygiene Compliance System, which was deployed in individual nursing units in their institution in 2009, to measure the impact of hand hygiene compliance on the incidence of health care-associated infections (HAIs), including MRSA. The DebMed system was developed to monitor in real time the staff’s compliance with WHO’s recommended approach to hand hygiene for health care workers.

“The WHO guidelines are the most comprehensive standard for when hand hygiene must be performed for optimal patient safety,” Kelly said.

The study, conducted from July 2012 to March 2015, also assessed the total costs of care avoided by using this monitoring system.

According to the researchers, electronic hand hygiene monitoring yielded a statistically significant 25.5% increase in hand hygiene compliance and a 42% decrease in hospital-onset MRSA HAIs, representing 24 MRSA HAIs that were prevented during the study period. The costs avoided, they said, totaled approximately $434,000.

By providing real-time hand hygiene compliance data, the monitoring system allowed the nursing units’ leadership to implement changes and improve staff performance, according to the researchers.

“The electronic hand hygiene compliance monitoring technology we used to gather data completely takes human bias out of equation, eliminating the Hawthorne Effect, and counts every hand hygiene event based on the World Health Organization’s My 5 Moments for Hand Hygiene guidelines,” Kelly said.

The study’s “major weakness,” according to the researchers, was that they were unable to control for other institutional initiatives that may have affected the MRSA rate. However, to their knowledge, no such initiatives were underway during the study period.

“The most important implication of the study is that the simplest, most basic process of hand hygiene does have a tremendous impact,” Kelly said. “Yet, it is one of the most frequently overlooked ways to improve patient care.” – by Kate Sherrer

Disclosure:  The study was supported by Deb Worldwide Healthcare, Inc., which had no influence on the design, conduct, analysis, or results of the study.