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SUNY Downstate Medical Center halts healthcare-associated infections

Healthcare-associated infections kill more than 72,000 patients yearly in the U.S. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that the most effective way to stop the spread of infection is to ensure that caregivers have clean hands, but monitoring care providers is tedious and limited, leaving staff and patients exposed to a higher risk of infection transmission.

In 2018, SUNY Downstate Medical Center launched a novel initiative to improve hand hygiene with the new, state-of-the-art BioVigil system to prevent HAIs and increase hand hygiene compliance. The colored lights on the BioVigil badge visually communicate hand hygiene compliance. Red is stop and wash hands; yellow is a reminder; green means hands are clean. This provides reassurance to patients and families that their care provider has clean hands and helps providers track their hygiene. One patient’s family member, after noticing a BioVigil badge, commented that he was “very impressed and had a huge sense of comfort not to worry about germs and diseases being transmitted because of bad [hand] hygiene.”

In less than eight months, Downstate recorded nearly six million hand hygiene occurrences, roughly 803 an hour. In addition to increasing patient quality and satisfaction, hand hygiene compliance increased by 200% and the numbers are still climbing. Cross-contamination events were reduced by 50%.

For more information, contact Robert Gwizdala, MPH, RN, director, epidemiology and infection control, SUNY Downstate Medical Center, at (718) 270-2344 or at robert.gwizdala@downstate.edu.

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