Tuesday, 13 Oct, 2009 Technology

Latest Invention: Hand-Washing Detector System that Ensures Doctors Are Clean


Scientists from the University of Florida unveiled their latest invention - a system that ensures that doctors wash their hands before any surgical procedure. The new system will be used to monitor every time a health care worker washes his or her hands.

The latest invention was developed by Richard J. Melker, a professor of anesthesiology, and his team. According to Melker the system will allow everyone in the hospital (including patients) to be informed on whether a nurse or a technician has clean hands. The new system is called HyGreen and doctors had already carried out trials in the intensive care unit of the university's hospital.

Currently the device is being made by Xhale Inc., a university spinoff. The key feature of the system is a sensor that is able to detect the soap and waterless cleaners used by the hospital staff. It shows green light each time the hands of the health care worker are clean. It is worth mentioning that around 250 patients die in U.S. every day as a result of infectious diseases that are acquired in hospital, report the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

According to the research team, their latest invention provides real-time data on who is washing their hands and how often. It could make the patient aware if the nurse hasn't washed his or her hands over the last minute.

The system works as follows:

  • - the health care worker enters a wash station located close to a patient's bed, where there's a device with a built-in motion detector placed above the sink;
  • - the worker splashes soap, or a waterless sterilizer, on his or her hands and rubs them for at least 15 seconds;
  • - the light on the worker's name tag turns green;
  • - as soon as the worker enters the patient's room, the nametag lights up a green light located over the patient's bed, informing the patient as well as everyone in the room that the nurse or doctor has clean hands; the same information is transmitted to a central data system in order to make everyone who needs to know aware that the health care worker is clean.

In case the arrival of the doctor is delayed by 60 seconds, the green light will not be triggered; instead a vibrator incorporated in the nametag will buzz 3 times.

There is currently no information on the cost of the latest invention. According to Melker, in case the system costs $3,000 per bed, it will pay off in about 6 months.

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