High-tech handwashing system could help reduce hospital infections

August 27, 2009

Testing of a hand hygiene program using infrared and radio frequency identification technology to capture and time-stamp hand washings is underway at a Miami hospital.

Testing of a hand hygiene program using infrared and radio frequency identification technology to capture and time-stamp hand washings is underway at The University of Miami and the Center for Patient Safety at the Jackson Memorial Hospital.

The tests are being done to see if the technology can help reduce hospital-acquired infections. The infrared (IR) and radio frequency (RF) technology is from Versus Technology, which is combined with systems integration services from Dynamic Computer Corp.

The program is able to capture who is washing their hands, when they wash them and where the washing occurred with IR-RF sensors in soap dispensing units. The sensors read staff identification badges and monitor the location and timing of hand washing, according to the Center for Patient Safety.

The technology would then allow hospitals to track and report on hand washing compliance, and identify problem areas that require additional training. The system would alert staff members in real time if they forget to wash their hands. Initial tests are being done at the safety center, and pilot testing in a hospital setting will follow.