You’d think by the twenty-first century health care professionals would have figured out that washing your hands is kind of important:

Health experts say poor hand cleanliness is a factor in hospital-borne infections that kill tens of thousands of Americans each year. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta estimates that one of every 20 patients in U.S. hospitals gets a hospital-acquired infection each year.

“We’ve known for over 150 years that good hand hygiene prevents patients from getting infections,” said Dr. John Jernigan, an epidemiologist for the CDC. “However, it’s been a very chronic and difficult problem to get adherence levels up as high as we’d like them to be.”


You know, they do teach us in doctor’s school about germs and stuff.  I remember learning once that washing your hands protects you and other people from getting sick.  Is it possible that 50% of healthcare workers — the estimated percentage of missed hand washing opportunities in hospitals — missed that lecture?

But have no fear!  In medicine, we rely on technology to save the day:

Since last year, SSM St. Mary’s Health Center in the St. Louis suburb of Richmond Heights, Mo., has been the test site for a system developed by Biovigil Inc., of Ann Arbor, Mich. A flashing light on a badge turns green when hands are clean, red if they’re not. It also tracks each hand-cleaning opportunity — the successes and the failures.

The failures have been few at the two units of St. Mary’s where the system is being tested, the hospital said. One unit had 97 percent hand hygiene success, said Dr. Morey Gardner, the hospital’s director of infection disease and prevention. The other had 99 percent success.

“The holy grail of infection prevention is in our grasp,” Gardner said.


Did he really just say that?

Even hospital patients are impressed:

Bill Rogers, a 65-year-old retiree recuperating at St. Mary’s from back surgery and a heart scare, agreed.

“The first thing I noticed up here was the badges,” Rogers said. “It is comforting for me to know their hands are clean as soon as the badge beeps and it goes from yellow to green.”


Isn’t it enough if patients witness their caregivers using the sink?  Do we really need more flashing lights?  Apparently, we do.

Read article on here.


(Image: jackthumm/