GOOD

Can Empathy Lead to Hygiene? How to Get Doctors to Wash Their Hands

A new study says reminding doctors and nurses of the greater good of hygiene can inspire compliance with hand-washing recommendations.


We've told you before about the problem of doctors not washing their hands enough. Every day, forgetful physicians and nurses around America handle very ill or wounded people with unclean hands and spread infection, which kills 100,000 hospital patients annually and sickens nearly two million others. In fact, according to the CDC, only about 40 percent of health care workers consistently adhere to recommended hand hygiene practices. We challenged our community to design a better hand-washing reminder, but our solutions couldn't be tested. Now researchers have discovered a truly effective way to get more health professionals to properly scrub up.

According to new research from the University of Carolina at Chapel Hill, a good way to get more doctors and nurses to regularly wash their hands is to remind them that they are not in danger of infection, their patients are. Traditionally signs and warnings about hand washing have been messages along the lines of "wash up to protect yourself." But it turns out that that's not very helpful.

Keep Reading Show less
Articles

Winner Announced: GOOD's Hospital Hand-Washing Challenge

We asked GOOD readers for ideas about how best to get doctors and nurses to regularly wash their hands. See the winning entry inside.


Last month we asked the GOOD community to come up with a better way to remind doctors and nurses to wash their hands. Health professionals are woefully forgetful when it comes to scrubbing up before working with patients, and their absentmindedness can lead to deadly infections for patients.

After combing through the many, many entries, we've decided to name Taylor Baldry the winner. Baldry gave us six solutions to choose from, each of which was inventive and wonderfully sketched. You can also see more of Taylor's work on his blog, Project Centaur.

Keep Reading Show less
Articles

Project: How Do We Get Doctors to Wash Their Hands?

Medical professionals are always forgetting to wash up before dealing with patients. How would you remind them?

Despite decades of warnings about infection, many doctors and nurses across the country continue to not wash their hands before interacting with patients. One recent study showed that medical workers were washing their hands in only one out of every four situations that required it, leading to the mass spread of infection across American hospitals. Every year, two million patients come down with an infection in a U.S. hospital, and about 100,000 of them end up dying from that infection.

Keep Reading Show less
Articles