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Comput Inform Nurs. 2013 Oct;31(10):498-504. doi: 10.1097/01.NCN.0000432124.53902.1d.

The effect of automated monitoring and real-time prompting on nurses' hand hygiene performance.

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  • 1Author Affiliations: Toronto Rehabilitation Institute, University Health Network, Toronto (Drs Levchenko and Fernie); Schegel Research Institute of Aging, University of Waterloo & Conestoga College, Kitchener (Dr Boscart); Department of Surgery, University of Toronto, Ontario, Canada (Dr Fernie).


Adequate hand hygiene compliance by healthcare staff is considered an effective method to reduce hospital-acquired infections. The electronic system developed at Toronto Rehabilitation Institute automatically detects hand hygiene opportunities and records hand hygiene actions. It includes an optional visual hand hygiene status indication, generates real-time hand hygiene prompting signals, and enables automated monitoring of individual and aggregated hand hygiene performance. The system was installed on a complex continuous care unit at the entrance to 17 patient rooms and a utility room. A total of 93 alcohol gel and soap dispensers were instrumented and 14 nurses were provided with the personal wearable electronic monitors. The study included three phases with the system operating in three different modes: (1) an inactive mode during the first phase when hand hygiene opportunities and hand hygiene actions were recorded but prompting and visual indication functions were disabled, (2) only hand hygiene status indicators were enabled during the second phase, and (3) both hand hygiene status and real-time hand hygiene prompting signals were enabled during the third phase. Data collection was performed automatically during all of the three phases. The system indicated significantly higher hand hygiene activity rates and compliance during the third phase, with both hand hygiene indication and real-time prompting functions enabled. To increase the efficacy of the technology, its use was supplemented with individual performance reviews of the automatically collected data.

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