One of the most important things hospital employees can do to protect patients is to wash their hands before entering and leaving patients’ rooms. However, this simple task is often overlooked. Hospitals have admitted that employees only washed their hands about half of the time, and they knew it had to change.
According to a story by TheBostonChannel.com, Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) is now using mystery shoppers to watch employees and determine how many are washing their hands. The secret shoppers are employees (such as nurses) who discreetly observe all employees who come into contact with patients to determine how many are following proper hand washing procedures.
The program works. MGH just reported three consecutive months of better than 90% compliance. But the best part is that the increase in employee hand washing has resulted in a decrease in the transmission of disease.
“We’ve seen over a two-and-a-half-fold decrease in the hospital-acquired cases of MRSA [a form of staph infection]” since new the hand hygiene protocol went into effect, said Dr. David Hooper, chief of infection control at MGH.
Mystery shopping serves many purposes. In this case, it is protecting the health of patients and even saving lives.