Efforts to reduce hospital-acquired infections across the country have begun to enter Big Brother territory, the New York Times reports. In some hospitals, sensors and cameras keep watch to determine whether doctors and nurses wash their hands thoroughly before and after attending to patients in intensive care units.
Such strategies are among the ways that hospitals are encouraging hand washing by doctors, nurses and other medical personnel.
With hospital-acquired infections causing more than 100,000 patient fatalities and costing more than $30 billion every year, hospitals have an incentive to invest in innovations to improve hand hygiene among doctors and nurses. According to some studies, the New York Times reported, hospital workers wash their hands just 30 percent of the time that they attend to patients.
Many studies have found that better hand hygiene – using alcohol-based scrubs and thorough washing for 15 seconds before and after attending to a patient – can help reduce the risk of infection to the patient. These very basic and simple practices don’t take a lot of time and should be routine at any hospital.
Other new techniques involve the use of hand-washing coaches, incentives and reward schemes for employees, as well as penalties in the form of red cards for employees who fail to wash their hands properly. Radio-frequency ID chips are being installed under sinks to note whether the doctor has passed the sink. Undercover cameras monitor whether medical personnel are washing their hands for the required 15 seconds it takes to eliminate dangerous bacteria.
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