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Hospital Hand Hygiene. Where are we at?


 Infections picked up in hospitals , care homes and doctors offices affect more than  1 million patients and are linked  to nearly 100,00 deaths a year. All of us worry about the spread of infections in hospitals and care homes. What is being done, and how can we help ?

  • Recent news articles show that hospitals in the UK are still failing to reach the ‘Gold Standard’ for reducing infections associated with health care . In one hospital it was found that ,out of 60 opportunities doctors had to wash their hands before or after treating patients, only 28 were taken.


  • The medical council are investigating what action can be taken against medical staff for failure to wash their hands after investigations found that a culture of hand hygiene is not thoroughly embedded in some hospitals across the UK.

 hand hygiene

 What is being done?

  • The World Health Organisation have set up a global hand hygiene campaign aimed at encouraging hand compliance, including the more frequent use of alcohol based hand sanitisers.
  • Hospitals are encouraging patients to be more assertive in raising the question of hand washing with doctors and nurses.


  •  Some hospitals have assigned unidentified workers to monitor staff hygiene.
  •  In some American hospitals electric sensors, thermal imaging and video cameras have been set up  to monitor hygiene. The  sensor system works by providing a sensor above the patient doorway that tracks entry/exits as hand hygiene “opportunities”, while  the SMARTLINK™ Technology in the soap/sanitizer dispensers calculate the hand hygiene “events.”  


  • With Government funding and the support of the SBRI ( Small Business Reseach Unit)  Scientists  are working on the development of a Non Thermal Plasma Hand Sterilisation Unit  in which hands are inserted into a machine similar to a hand dryer, and a line of plasma scans across hands to ensure total coverage.


  • Being trialed in Dr Grey’s hospital in Elgin Scotland and, developed in conjunction with the NHS Grampian infection Prevention and Control Team,  a Pure Hold Hygiene Handle automatically dispenses sanitizing gel ensuring that every person who opens the door cleans their hands.


  • At some hospitals, posters, bedside placards and buttons for staff say, “Ask me if I’ve washed my hands.”


  • Another idea being used is the issue of badges that wirelessly record staffs use of hand hygiene stations.  Staff at SSM  St. Mary’s have been monitoring an electronic device which clips onto employees badges and is picked up by an infrared sensor inside and outside the patients room, changing different colours when alcohol rub is used.


  • Some monitoring systems even encourage patient engagement by sounding an electronic alert to remind patients to speak up when staff enter a room.


The Centre for Disease Control (CDC) in America  has provided 16,000 copies of a video called ‘ Hand Hygiene Saves Lives’ encouraging patients to question whether staff have washed their hands

A CDC  poster aims to raise patient awareness of the role of hand washing in preventing infection and encourages patients to speak up to hospital staffers each time they enter the room.

 hand hygiene1

Measures to reduce infection  have been recently been reviewed and highlighted by ‘The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence  ( NICE) in a Quality Standard on ‘Infection Prevention and Control’. The standard lays out six specific statements for NHS staff on preventing and controlling infections. As well as focusing on hand washing opportunities and procedures, the six statements include:-  the monitoring of the issue of antibiotics in order to reduce antibiotic resisitance, NHS organisations sharing information and monitoring infection rates, and the need to  follow rigorous  sterile procedures for patients who have a urinary catheter, a vascular acess device or an enteral feeding tube (including  providing detailed information for carers.)

For those of us then that might still  ask the question’ What is being done to lower  the spread of infection in hospitals? the answer has to be that a variety of different innovations and initiatives are being trialed, both across the UK and World wide. Some may prove be more successful than others, and hopefully, Hospital Trusts can, and should, liaise with each other to discuss monitoring the effectiveness of these ideas. 

Hospital  and health care staff, patients and visitors all have their part  to play in promoting good hygiene practice and developing a culture where we are not afraid to   continually ask the question ‘ Have you washed your hands?’

Lynne Goodman- Marketing and PR director of HandryersUK. Keen interest in raising awareness for health and hygiene. I regularly write about health/hygiene, and the importance of raising awareness within everyday working environments. For more information on my bio please visit  http://

Lynne Goodman LynneGoodman9




March 10th 2014


With thanks to :-

Bio Vigil- Hand ygiene Solutions _ feb 8th – CHA: hand-washing monitoring system at SSM St. Mary’s is impossible to ignore

Grantham Journal –GranthamHospital raise awareness of Hand Hygiene – March 3rd 2014

Hospital Staff aces sanctions over hygiene – Irsh Examiner- Thurs 5th Sept- Catherine Shanahan

News- Hand Hygiene – DebMed to Present Efficacy of Electronic Monitoring Of Hand Hygiene At IPS conference in London

The Hospitalist Sept 2013- Larry Beresford

Wall Street Journal – 30th September 2013- Why Hospitals Want Patients to Ask Doctors’Have You Washed Your Hands?’

NHS Choices highlights- how- handwashing- saves- lives


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