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23 Mar 2010

The importance of hand washing

By Richard Verdiramo

HandGiene Corp. |

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Richard Verdiramo of HandGiene Corp. reveals why HCAI rates are decreasing, why and how they need to keep going down.

“In the European Union, approximately four million illnesses and 37,000 deaths per year are attributable to healthcare acquired infections (HCAI)”
-Richard J. Verdiramo

In the European Union, approximately four million illnesses and 37,000 deaths per year are attributable to healthcare acquired infections (HCAI). This results in 16 million extra days of hospital stay at a cost of €5.5 billion per year. HCAI seems to increase the risk of death three times, compared to the mortality rate of uninfected patients with the same pathology. Hand washing and hand sanitising seriously reduce the risk of HCAI as well as reduce the cost. One study showed that a 10 percent reduction in HCAI cases in hospitals would save five times the cost of prevention efforts.

Since 2008, when NHS trusts across England and Wales began promoting hand hygiene to reduce HCAI, there has been a significant decrease in episodes of HCAI: 57 percent less of reported multi-drug resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) episodes, 61 percent less of Clostridium Difficile (C. difficile), and 40 percent less of all other reported episodes. Nonetheless, infection incidence and the resultant suffering, disability and death still are too high. Even one careless person can wreak havoc. French researchers recently found that one non-compliant staff member who sees every patient daily can lower the overall compliance rate by as much 23 percent.

Self-monitoring vastly overestimates compliance. One study showed that self-reporting doctors had a perceived rate of 73 percent (range of 50 to 95 percent). Observed reports showed a compliance rate of only nine percent. Because of these concerns, a monitoring system for hand washing that uses Radio Frequency ID (RFID) technology is now available for hospitals and other healthcare centres throughout the European Union.

The HandGiene RFID system gives administrators the ability to track, improve and meet staff hand-washing goals of up to 100 percent. The monitoring system also can be set to remind individual healthcare workers that they have not washed or sanitised their hands. "We have to look at everyone to find the one person who isn't compliant," says John Wu, HandGiene Corporation's scientific advisory board member.

Each staff member is issued a nametag or wristband that is read by the RFID-enabled system upon entering and leaving a designated area as well as at a dispensing unit for soap or hand-sanitiser. Every instance is logged into a database that can be read in real-time. The system works with soap or hand-sanitizers for restrooms, lavatories, patient areas and treatment rooms.

"We realised that RFID technology could be used to reduce the incidence of HCAIs, saving lives - and costs - to the healthcare system," says Vincent L. Verdiramo, HandGiene President. The most often cited reason for lack of hand washing is easy access. Soaps and hand-sanitizers are simply not located conveniently. This is why the HandGiene inventor, Vincent Verdiramo included soap and hand-sanitizer dispensers with the system.

"We wanted it to be a complete solution to the problem, not just a monitoring device," explains Verdiramo. Whether soap or hand-sanitizer, the gel in the dispensers takes 15 seconds of friction to dissipate, making sure that hands are clean. Because C. difficile spores are frequently resistant to alcohol, HandGiene offers a propriety sanitizer that is not alcohol-based. The sanitizers kill MRSA, C. difficile and other bacteria as well as viruses and fungi.

Unlike alcohol, the sanitizer solution does not dry out the hands when used continually, as alcohol-based products do, thereby reducing the hand-washing rate. "Many healthcare workers complain that alcohol-based sanitizers dry out their hands when used continuously," says Verdiramo. "We tried to eliminate as many obstacles as possible to hand-washing without compromising efficacy."

The patented system integrates with existing legacy systems for fast installation and ease-of-use. Web-based software allows administrators to monitor specific employees, teams, departments and shifts in complete or multiple locations.

For more information, please call 00 353 87 635 2787 or visit

Richard J. Verdiramo is vice president and a board member of HandGiene Corp. Since graduating from Providence College in 1986, he has developed, served as a senior executive, board member and brought public, a range of companies specializing in Internet and new media marketing, healthcare and organic food products.

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