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Shoe chip measures hospital hand-washing

Shoe chip measures hospital hand-washing
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As in every French hospital, the staff at the Department of Infectious and Tropical Diseases at the Hopital Nord in Marseille must follow simple hygiene procedures like disinfecting hands.

However, sometimes people forget.

At this hospital cleaning methods are tracked by a system called Medi-HandTrace.

Professor Philippe Brouqui, head of the Department of Infectious and Tropical Diseases, has been testing the device since 2013.

It tracks each staff member using a chip inserted into their shoe. It then records when, where and how many times they wash their hands.

Professor Philippe Brouqui, of the Department of Infectious and Tropical Diseases in Marseille’s North Hospital said: “So here, I’m standing on the antenna. You cannot see it because it’s inserted in the ground, it registers my shoes via the chip that has may name, because the system recognises my shoes. I’m now going to use some hyrdo-alcohol solution, it sends a signal to the antenna and registers it.”

Inside a ward with a patient, Professor Brouqui is using another dispenser that is linked to the Medi-HandTrace system.

He said: “Here there is a second machine, because if we want to respect the World Health Organisation rules we have to disinfect our hands before touching the patient, which means before we enter the area marked by a second pad, which is the security area, we must have clean hands.”

When the department first tested the system in 2013, the level of compliance was around 20%, now it fluctuates between 40% and 60%.

It is believed the data collected will offer care providers with a better understanding of hospital-acquired infections and allow care facilities to improve their compliance rates.

The data recorded here shows a sharp improvement in individual and collective practice. The next stage may well be an alarm linked to the Medi-HandTrace, which will go off if the care provider fails to follow procedures.

Professor Brouqui added: “We send an SMS to volunteer staff members every 15 days to two different groups on different shifts that gives us an overview on our levels of hand hygiene if we have improved or not.”

The system was designed by Micro Be, a French company which specialises in electronics and computer engineering.

The director, Serge Ternoir, explained that they have worked on various chip and shoe versions before designing the current prototype:

“Today what we do, is that we cut the shoe a little, we insert the chip in the shoe and we reseal it with a glue that is water resistant. Why the shoes? Because they belong to each individual member of staff.”

Medical staff believe this is the best system to help reduce hospital-acquired infections.

Professor Brouqui said: “Here we are the biggest consumers of hydro-alcoholic solution even when we had only 20 per cent compliance. So that means that in other hospitals, not only in France but across the world, people are not disinfecting their hands and that is one of the main reasons why we are failing in our fight against hospital-acquired infections.”

According to the French Health Ministry infections picked up in hospitals affect more than 800,000 nationwide and leads to the deaths of 10,000 people a year.