To Do No Harm, Rethink How to Measure Hand Hygiene

Paul Alper, BA

Primum non nocere is a Latin phrase that means, “First, do no harm.” It is a precept taught to healthcare students around the world and paraphrased in the Hippocratic Oath. Unfortunately, a vast amount of avoidable harm still takes place in healthcare settings worldwide. The good news is that a new technology can provide a solution to a decades-old challenge to patient safety professionals: how to accurately and reliably monitor hand hygiene—the simplest and most effective way to prevent healthcare-associated infections (HAI).
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Industry Roundtable: Hand Hygiene Compliance

Originally published in Infection Control Today.

In February, a new industry consortium, EHCO™ — the Electronic Hand-hygiene Compliance Organization – was formed by eight U.S.-based hand-hygiene compliance solution providers. This month, we further exploring the status of the hand hygiene market and the obstacles to bringing this sector up to the electronic status of the rest of healthcare. In a healthcare world of value-based care, where data is key, patient engagement is growing every day, and speed of access to information is saving lives, why are we still using pen and paper to record hand hygiene? The members of EHCO answer eight questions to shed some light on this topic.
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Consortium Forms to Mandate Electronic Monitoring of Hand Hygiene in Healthcare

Leaders in healthcare face daily pressure to drive quality and economic efficiencies. This trend has become more prominent as the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) imposes penalties that demand hospitals do more with less. Today’s healthcare executives must find new evidence-based ways to improve practices and standards of care and choose methods that are relatively easy to implement into their organization’s culture.

One patient safety area now attracting attention, thanks to the CMS Hospital Associated Condition (HAC) penalty, is the need for effective methods to reduce infections. Every year in the United States, more than 700,000 hospital patients contract an avoidable infection known as an HAI, healthcare-associated infection. Of those patients, approximately 75,000 will die.
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Infection Control Today Introduces EHCO

To create meaningful awareness of the patient safety risks and the economic burden to the U.S. healthcare system of outdated hand hygiene compliance measurement, eight U.S.-based hand-hygiene compliance solution providers have formed an alliance. The Electronic Hand-hygiene Compliance Organization (EHCO™) aims to lead and influence changes in hand-hygiene measurement policy and guidelines at accreditation organizations, government agencies, health insurers, and hospitals. EHCO’s focus is to improve hand hygiene compliance and, in turn, increase safety and reduce avoidable harm to patients and hospital staff. EHCO™ is a consortium of healthcare technology companies that provide SMART (Systems that Measure Accurately and in Real-Time) hand-hygiene compliance solutions. EHCO’s member companies are committed to lead and influence changes in policy and guidelines at accreditation organizations, government agencies, health insurers, and hospitals along with educating consumers on this important public health issue. The intended outcome of their work is the reduction of avoidable harm.
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