Foundation for highly acclaimed “Safe Hands” anti-infection program

WOLVERHAMPTON, West Midlands, U.K., (June 5, 2014) — New Cross Hospital, part of The Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust, today announced a milestone of one million hand hygiene observations using TeleTracking Technologies, Inc.’s automated hand hygiene sensor as part of the ‘Safe Hands’ program. This compares to just 600 visual observations over the same time period.

Safe Hands is a government-funded effort using Real-Time Locating System (RTLS) technology to improve staff compliance in order to reduce the threat of antibiotic-resistant HCAIs, which is growing globally, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Program Manager, Clare Nash, RN, states that over the past nine months the Trust badged nearly 4,000 employees, all in-patients, and over 1,226 assets. Finding a tagged asset now takes just 25 seconds, which means patients are given timely treatment or intervention. RTLS also ensures proper cleaning of equipment. Saving time means more planned preventative maintenance (PMM) and safe equipment, plus NHSLA compliance.

“It’s a pioneering technological system,” said Nash, and it continues to drive improvements to the hospital’s already excellent infection prevention standards.

The system is “the biggest of its kind in any hospital in the world” and a “revolutionary step forward in healthcare,” she said.

The TeleTracking system also tracks the role of every badged staff member who comes in contact with an infected patient. Nash recalled a case early in the program where an infected patient came in contact with hospital staff members, fellow patients and mobile medical assets 217 times before a diagnosis was made.

“This is why it’s so hard to contain norovirus and C. diff,” she says of the number of contacts recorded. “I am so amazed at the power of this data. It shows us how important it is to get an infected patient isolated as soon as possible.”

In addition to monitoring hand hygiene enterprise-wide, the RTLS-based technology from TeleTracking locates equipment across the Trust, generates available bed status, and tracks patients and staff locations automatically and in real time. White boards and magnets have been replaced with 42 inch computer touchscreens that show everything in real time on a floor plan graphic, from equipment, to patients, to staff members.

Every time equipment is moved, a patient leaves a ward, or a staff member washes their hands – the TeleTracking system knows. Alerts go off if a patient hasn’t been seen for more than an hour, or if a patient is in an isolated area longer than 20 minutes. Location and time data is sent back to computer touchscreens in each department.

Infection prevention and control nurses used to spend an hour or more per patient tracking patient contacts and locations to perform root cause analyses. Now they can run a report to access the information with the click of a button.

Cheryl Etches, chief nurse, added, “I now have access to so much information about patient safety and experience issues. The potential this system offers is phenomenal and can fundamentally underpin the operating framework of our organization.”

By using the real-time locations of patients to automate bed occupancy and discharges, New Cross Hospital has a live bed state. Nearly 75 percent of discharged patients now leave their wrist badges in a drop box before leaving the hospital, automatically triggering housekeeping to clean vacated beds. Beds are now are becoming available to new patients in less than 40 minutes – which is the time it takes to notify a housekeeper and clean a room.

Originally intended exclusively to monitor hand washing, Nash says administrators soon realized the TeleTracking system’s greater potential. Data reports detail the hours of care given to individual patients, by individuals or groups of staff. This can be triangulated with patient condition, acuity, fall risk, etc. Staff judged this feature to be the most important, closely followed by patient status at a glance.

Nash says this reporting capability is supporting accurate costing for service provisions, predicting and planning for future staffing levels, and informed dialogue with Trust commissioners.

“The system also makes the hospital more efficient,” Nash said, because “there is no longer a need to walk around to see if tasks have been done.” This gives care providers more time to spend with patients.