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Health-care worker hand hygiene rates increase three-fold when auditors visible
Date:7/8/2014

Hand hygiene rates were found to be three times higher when auditors were visible to healthcare workers than when there were no auditors present, according to a study in a major Canadian acute care hospital.

The study, titled, "Quantification of the Hawthorne effect in hand hygiene compliance monitoring using an electronic monitoring system: a retrospective cohort study," published today on-line in the BMJ Quality & Safety Journal, by first author Dr. Jocelyn Srigley, who did the study as part of her Master's thesis while a Clinical Fellow in Infection Prevention and Control at University Health Network and University of Toronto and senior author Dr. Michael Gardam, Director, Infection Prevention and Control, University Health Network and Women's College Hospital. Link: http://qualitysafety.bmj.com/cgi/rapidpdf/bmjqs-2014-003080?ijkey=JPbRe7gYzAFsm1Z&keytype=ref

The study examined the Hawthorne effect, also known as observation bias the tendency of people to change their behavior when they are aware of an observer using an electronic monitoring hand hygiene system in real-time, eliminating many of the biases inherent to human observation. Ultrasound "tags" on soap dispensers transmitted a signal to a nearby receiver each time the levers were pushed, and a time-stamped hand hygiene wash was recorded in a central data base.

Two inpatient units in University Health Network were electronically monitored, with 60 healthcare workers volunteering to be part of a study of the electronic monitoring system. Staff were aware that data would be used in a variety of studies, but were "blind" to the questions asked in the studies. Auditors did not announce their presence during audits but wore white lab coats. Auditors were also blinded to the questions asked in the research. Hand hygiene dispenses were electronica
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Contact: Alex Radkewycz
Alexandra.Radkewycz@uhn.ca
416-340-2895
University Health Network
Source:Eurekalert

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