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Direct observation dramatically boosts hand hygiene compliance

Tue, May 10, 2016

According to a study published in Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology , healthcare workers under direct observation perform hand hygiene events nearly three times more often every hour than those not under observation. 

To test the effect of observation on hand hygiene performance, researchers conducted 48 direct observation hand hygiene audits, each lasting two hours. They recorded hand hygiene events using electronic alcohol-based handrub dispensers.

The number of events recorded during direct observation were then compared to the number of events recorded just using the electronic dispensers in the remaining six hours of the healthcare workers' eight-hour shift.

During the study, 4,180 hand hygiene events were recorded by the dispensers, 2,029 of which were recorded during direct observation times and 2,151 of which were performed during working shifts that were not under direct observation.

Healthcare workers performed eight hand hygiene events per hour when not under observation, while healthcare workers under direct observation performed 21 hand hygiene events per hour.