Hand washing is one of our best defenses for warding off infection and disease. While it seems like such a simple solution to killing germs, studies have proven time and again that many forgo the soap and water after heading to the restroom. If you have ever been in a public restroom and witnessed this, you likely cringed and grabbed a paper towel to touch the door handle with on the way out.
But what if the person you witnessed skipping this important sanitary step was a hospital employee?
While you would think the risk of infection (not only to themselves but to their patients as well) would be motivation enough, some hospitals have discovered that only about 50% are thoroughly washing. Another recent study showed on 1 out of every 20 people washes their hands correctly.
Because a variety of germs, diseases and infections are present in patients, the need for hand washing to avoid spreading these to others is high. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in every 20 U.S. patients get an infection from the hospital each year.
So when signs and warnings do little to change the habits of repeat offenders, what’s left? Fortunately new technology is stepping in to track those who are breaking the rules.
Many companies have their own versions created but essentially one of the more popular devices features a badge that shows patients and peers whether they have sanitized their hands before approaching them. Green means they are clean and yellow shows that they have not.
Other companies have used video devices, tracking technology on soap dispensers and have even had actual people watch out for those who are not washing their hands so that the matter can be addressed.
Are these devices truly necessary? Well, if hand washing is still being neglected despite the known risk of infection transmission, it appears the answer is yes.
Will they help slow the rise of hospital borne illnesses? It looks promising, but only time will tell.