sensing hand sanitizing

A researcher affiliated with the Toronto Rehabilitation Centre has devised a system to remind health care workers to sanitize their hands before they greet the next patient.

The hand hygiene device consists of three parts: a sensor positioned at the back of the healthcare worker’s neck and infrared lights above the patient’s bed that detect the sensor. A great innovation in own regard is an alcohol gel dispenser that attaches directly to the healthcare worker’s waistband.

A health-care worker wears the sensor and a beep is triggered when the person approaches a patient’s bed, reminding them to use the sanitizing gel. If the health-care worker has already done so, the beep will not sound.

The system also records the time of entry and exit from each patient area and the number of times hands are disinfected. This data can be downloaded into a computer so individual staff members can check their overall hand hygiene and compare it anonymously against their peers.

Love the anonymous part. Of course, it isn’t anonymous. The current interface may be designed to suppress the worker’s id but it doesn’t have to. However, it might be advantageous to know who isn’t complying with the hand sanitizing. And the lead researcher, Geoff Fernie, makes a good point that it’s simply hard to wash your hands 150 times(!) a day. (How health care workers combat chapped skin, is beyond me.)

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