To put it bluntly, medical staff do not deserve the undivided trust of patients that they often seem to assume. Not until they fix things that ought to be expected from them to do their jobs properly. Basic things like washing their hands. I don’t know how many times I have had to ask nurses and doctors to wash their hands or use hand sanitizer. The negligence is so widespread that it kills people. A study of US facilities found hand-washing compliance at merely 26% at Intensive Care Units (ICUs) and 36% at non-ICUs. People who arrive at the hospital in a vulnerable state, hoping to be treated in a professional manner, have their lives ended due to the seemingly simple act of medical staff not washing their hands.
In healthcare settings, hand hygiene is absolutely critical. The Israeli company Hyginex explains:
“Healthcare-worker hand hygiene is a major health concern and a substantial financial risk factor in healthcare settings. Studies show that poor hand hygiene compliance is the leading contributor to healthcare-acquired infections which are responsible, according to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), for approximately 90,000 deaths a year and a cost of over $30 billion to US hospitals.”
Hyginex has developed an integrated soap-dispensing-and-wristband-alert system. When it’s time for a doctor to wash his/her hands prior to taking on a new patient, an LED light is first set off in the bracelet, thereafter a vibration. They are also alerted if they haven’t washed their hands well enough. The soap dispenser knows the amount of soap that has been applied and motion sensors in the band can identify for how long the hands have been rubbed together.
It allows for a simple and effective control of healthcare workers’ hand hygiene compliance. Data is easily collected for management to review and track the level of compliance and quality of the hand-washing. Trials have been made at various Intensive Care Units. In an Israeli trial, compliance rates rose from 25% to 44% after the Hyginex system was introduced.
Efrat Raichman, the founder of Hyginex, was driven to create this solution when a person close to her died of a hospital infection after having gone there for just a minor issue. She was taken aback when finding out that the main reason for people to get infections in healthcare settings is poor hand hygiene of staff, not from the actual medical procedures performed.
The system is designed to not be very obtrusive, but some medical staff are bound to feel that it is forced upon them and that it is annoying to be controlled. However, I think any such arguments would be unfounded as long as doctors and nurses don’t think clearly enough to properly wash their hands before taking on a new patient. Hand hygiene compliance is so shamefully low.
We patients deserve more respect and security. Healthcare workers need to get their acts together and act more professional. They have our lives in their hands.