Focus of the Report: This report focuses on electronic monitoring (EM) of hand hygiene (HH) in a hospital setting.

Technology Description: Electronic HH monitoring systems vary in their degree of sophistication. The simplest are straightforward counters that record the number of times an antiseptic dispenser is used. More sophisticated systems have sensors that transmit signals from patient zones, sinks, antiseptic dispensers, doorways, etc. and can detect healthcare workers (HCWs) via wireless transmitters. These systems monitor potential HH opportunities and/or events.

Controversy: Studies employing proxy measures of HH may not provide reliable indicators of HH compliance. When product consumption is the outcome measure, uptake could increase since more product is being consumed each time the hands are cleansed or through waste, spillage, or improper use. Some authors are uncertain about the present accuracy, utility, and cost-effectiveness of automated systems, many of which are not able to detect each of the key moments of HH for an HCW. HCWs concerned about EM system accuracy or how the results of data collected will be used may result in poor acceptance of the system.

Key Questions:

  • Do electronic HH monitoring systems accurately assess HH compliance?

  • Are electronic HH monitoring systems effective at improving compliance with HH protocols and reducing rates of healthcare-associated infections?

  • Are electronic HH monitoring systems associated with any harmful effects to HCWs or patients?

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