Hospital Installs Cameras to Boost Hand Hygiene in the ICU

An NBC News affiliate in New York is reporting that North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset, N.Y., has installed 39 cameras in its intensive care unit to boost hand hygiene compliance and control healthcare-acquired infections.  The hospital conducted a study of its hand hygiene practices in 2008 and discovered that compliance among physicians was just 10 percent. Today, the hospital reports compliance rates of around 80 percent.

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In a groundbreaking study published in 2011 in Clinical Infectious Diseases, North Shore University Hospital is credited with taking this new approach to hand hygiene that has produced dramatic results. The hospital partnered with Arrowsight, Inc., developer of a patented 24/7/365 third-party remote video auditing platform (RVA) to monitor hand hygiene and conduct a pilot program to increase hand hygiene among healthcare professionals in their medical intensive care unit (MICU).

Over an initial 16-week period, the hospital staff was monitored to establish a base rate of hand hygiene compliance without any feedback to the staff. Using a very strict definition of hand hygiene (requiring health care workers to perform hand hygiene before and after patient care within 10 seconds of entering and exiting the room, regardless if gloves were used), their rates were right in line with previously documented findings at around 10 percent. The next 16-week period, staff received real-time feedback on their performance via LED screens mounted on the walls of the MICU and from management. Within weeks of providing feedback, the hand hygiene rate during the second period jumped to over 80 percent. During a subsequent 17 month maintenance period, a sustained rate of well above 80 percent was achieved. There were over 430,000 hand hygiene data points collected during the 25 month study period, making this the most comprehensive study ever conducted on hand hygiene performance.

"Handwashing has been shown to be the backbone of infection control for the last 150 years," says Dr. Bruce Farber, chief of infectious diseases at North Shore University Hospital who oversaw the study. " It is one of the most important aspects of preventing the spread of infectious diseases from patient to patient by the hands of healthcare professionals. This is the first time we've used third-party remote video auditing technology, combined with continuous real-time feedback. The results were not only very significant but also showed a sustained improvement in hand hygiene compliance in our facility over a two-year period. Plus, our staff reacted very positively to the program. The staff did not feel their privacy was being violated or unfairly observed. It has engendered a sense of teamwork in keeping compliance rates high. Quality patient care is critical and North Shore remains committed to the study of, and prevention of, hospital-acquired infections and other infectious diseases."

Adam Aronson, chief executive officer of Arrowsight, Inc. notes, "Members of my immediate family have experienced hospital-acquired infections. That is part of what inspired me to develop a program for healthcare environments.  Dr. Farber and the staff at North Shore University Hospital were willing to give RVA the opportunity to help improve patient care. Their dedication enabled us to prove that the platform works in this industry as it has in others and is a big step forward in the battle against HAIs."