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Peers' Presence Ups Health Workers' Hand Hygiene

Update Date: Sep 20, 2014 04:12 PM EDT

The presence of other health care workers improves hand hygiene adherence, according to a new study. 

For the study, researchers deployed a custom-built, automated, hand hygiene monitoring system. It detected whether a health care worker practiced hand hygiene up entering and exiting a patient's room. The custom-built system also estimated the location of other health care workers with respect to health care workers entering or exiting a room.

The researchers found that the observed adherence rate was 20.85 percent when a worker was alone (no recent health care worker contacts). However, the observed adherence was higher (27.90 percent; P < 0.01) when other health care workers were present. The number of nearby health care workers correlated with increased adherence, but at a decreasing rate. After controlling for confounding factors, these results were consistent at different times of day and for different measures of social context, the press release added.

"The presence and proximity of other health care workers is associated with higher hand hygiene rates," the authors wrote in the study. "Our results also indicate that rates increase as the social environment becomes more crowded, but with diminishing marginal returns."

The study was published in the October issue of Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology. 

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