Infection prevention specialists at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit have found that showing healthcare workers magnified pictures of bacteria found on their 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 an 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 hand hygiene compliance, and prompted healthcare workers to see who could produce the best ATP meter readings on subsequent infection prevention specialist visits.