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J Hosp Infect. 2014 Oct;88(2):84-8. doi: 10.1016/j.jhin.2014.06.014. Epub 2014 Jul 24.

Effect of a contact monitoring system with immediate visual feedback on hand hygiene compliance.

Author information

Department of Microbiology and Virology, University College London Hospitals, London, UK.
Heart Hospital, University College London Hospitals, London, UK.
Institute for Occupational Ergonomics, Faculty of Engineering, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UK.
HCAI Service Users Research Forum, Faculty of Health and Human Sciences, University of West London, Brentford, UK.
Intromed Ltd, Leicester, UK.
Department of Microbiology and Virology, University College London Hospitals, London, UK. Electronic address:



Hand hygiene compliance is traditionally monitored by visual methods that are open to bias and strictly limited in time and place. Automatic monitoring may be more effective for infection control as well as performance management.


To establish accuracy and acceptability of an automatic contact monitoring system for hand hygiene.


Monitoring equipment was installed across 55 beds in three wards, and included modified identity badges, bedside furniture, sinks and alcohol gel dispensers. Badges were in near-skin contact (through uniform) and could detect alcohol vapour. All devices were linked by wi-fi. A traffic light system on the badge provided immediate feedback to staff and patients on the hand hygiene status of a member of staff on approach to a patient. Compliance was logged automatically. Following a period of immediate feedback, no visual feedback was given for two weeks. Subsequently, feedback was given using red/green lights for 10 days, followed by retrospective feedback to the ward. Hand hygiene was verified independently by an observer.


Hand hygiene compliance increased from 21% of 97 opportunities to 66% of 197 opportunities during active immediate feedback. Compliance decreased when feedback was provided to wards retrospectively. Six staff (26%) avoided wearing a badge, saying that it was too heavy or they were not on the ward all day. Only three of 30 patients stated that they would challenge staff who had not performed hand hygiene.


Automatic contact monitoring with immediate feedback was effective in increasing hand hygiene compliance, but feedback given retrospectively did not prevent a decrease in compliance.


Contact monitoring; Hand hygiene; Healthcare-acquired infection

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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