At North Shore University Hospital on Long Island, motion sensors, like those used for burglar alarms, go off every time someone enters an intensive care room. The sensor triggers a video camera, which transmits its images halfway around the world to India, where workers are checking to see if doctors and nurses are performing a critical procedure: washing their hands.
Anemona Hartocollis explains why we should all be concerned when health care workers in hospitals don’t wash their hands:
This Big Brother-ish approach is one of a panoply of efforts to promote a basic tenet of infection prevention, hand-washing, or as it is more clinically known in the hospital industry, hand-hygiene. With drug-resistant superbugs on the rise, according to a recent report by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and with hospital-acquired infections costing $30 billion and leading to nearly 100,000 patient deaths a year, hospitals are willing to try almost anything to reduce the risk of transmission.
The article does not reveal how expensive this monitoring program is, though it must be. It’s also disturbing that doctors, nurses, and other health care workers need to be reminded to wash their hands! You would think that enough patients would complain enough to shame us to do the right thing. Do people not notice when a doctor skips the hand hygiene? Or are they afraid to comment?
I’ve never gone to a doctor who didn’t wash his or her hands first before examining me. Though maybe they shook my hand before getting to the sink. Come to think of it….