According to the New York Times, North Shore University Hospital on Long Island uses motion sensors every time someone enters an intensive care room. The sensor triggers a video camera, which transmits its images halfway around the world, where workers are checking to see if doctors and nurses are washing their hands.
This approach is one of many efforts to promote a basic principle 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 per year, hospitals are trying new tactics aimed at reducing the risk of transmission.
The incentive to do something is strong: under new federal rules, hospitals will lose Medicare money when patients get preventable infections.
Among the explanations studies have offered are complaints about dry skin, the pressures of an emergency environment, the tedium of hand washing, and resistance to authority. Studies have found that doctors, who have the most authority, tend to be the most resistant.