Magnified Bacteria Powerful Motivator for Hand Hygiene Compliance

ED Manag. 2016 Aug;28(8):94-5.


Infection prevention specialists at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit have found that showing healthcare workers magnified pictures of bacteria found ontheir hands and in their surrounding units can be a powerful motivator for improved hand hygiene compliance. When tested in four units during a one-month period, the intervention boosted hand hygiene compliance by an average of 24%. Investigators note that to be successful, the intervention must be paired with an effective compliance monitoring program. For the study, investigators visited each unit twice per week, during which they would swab various items as well as employees' hands using and adenosine triphosphate (ATP) meter, a hand-held device that measures living organisms. During each unit visit, infection prevention specialists would show unit personnel pictures from a compilation of 12 magnified images of bacteria that had been lifted from the unit. This was to demonstrate what the bacteria would look like under a microscope. The unsavory pictures produced immediate increases in had hygiene compliance, and prompted healthcare workers to see who could produce the best ATP meter readings on subsequent infection prevention specialist visits.

MeSH terms

  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Bacteria / isolation & purification*
  • Cross Infection / prevention & control*
  • Guideline Adherence
  • Hand / microbiology*
  • Hand Hygiene*
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Infectious Disease Transmission, Professional-to-Patient / prevention & control*
  • Michigan
  • Motivation*
  • Personnel, Hospital*