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We sought to determine whether an electronic hand hygiene (HH) system could monitor HH compliance at similar rates to direct human observation.
This 4-year proof-of-concept study was conducted in an intensive care unit (ICU) of a private tertiary-care hospital in São Paulo, Brazil, where electronic HH systems were installed in 2 rooms. HH compliance was reported respectively using direct observation and electronic counter devices with an infrared system for detecting HH opportunities.
In phase 1, HH compliance by human observers was 56.3% (564 of 1,001 opportunities), while HH compliance detected by the electronic observer was 51.0% (515 of 1,010 opportunities). In phase 2, human observers registered 484 HH opportunities with a HH compliance rate of 64.7% (313 of 484) versus 70.6% (346 of 490) simultaneously detected by the electronic system. In addition, an enhanced HH electronic system monitored activity 24 hours per day and HH compliance without the presence of a human observer was 40.3% (10,642 of 26,421 opportunities), providing evidence for the Hawthorne effect.
The electronic HH monitoring system had good correlation with human HH observation, but compliance was remarkably lower when human observers were not present due to the Hawthorne effect (25%–30% absolute difference). Electronic monitoring systems can replace direct observation and can markedly reduce the Hawthorne effect.
Most hand hygiene (HH) intervention studies use a quasi-experimental design, are primarily uncontrolled before-and-after studies, or are controlled before-and-after studies with a nonequivalent control group. Well-funded studies with improved designs and HH interventions are needed.
To evaluate healthcare worker (HCW) HH compliance with alcohol-based hand rub (ABHR) through direct observation (human observer), 2 electronic technologies, a radio frequency identification (RFID) badge system, and an invasive device sensor.
In our controlled experimental study, 2,269 observations were made over a 6-month period from July 1 to December 30, 2020, in a 4-bed intensive care unit. We compared HH compliance between a basic feedback loop system with RFID badges and an enhanced feedback loop system that utilized sensors on invasive devices.
Real-time feedback by wireless technology connected to a patient’s invasive device (enhanced feedback loop) resulted in a significant increase in HH compliance (69.5% in the enhanced group vs 59.1% in the basic group; P = .0001).
An enhanced feedback loop system connected to invasive devices, providing real-time alerts to HCWs, is effective in improving HH compliance.
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