A new ward entry system could help combat the spread of healthcare associated infections, delegates heard this week at the Infection Control Nurses Association conference in Brighton.
The 'Handsafe' system is a box-like device fitted to the wall outside a ward or department and connected to an electronic door lock.
Designed to prevent entry unless hand hygiene practices are carried out, staff and visitors have to apply alcohol hand gel and then place their hands under the device. Once the gel has been detected, the door will open automatically. It does, however, have an override system in case of emergencies.
The system, developed by Monmouth Surgical, will be piloted in ICU and neonatal units at Kings Mill Hospital, Nottinghamshire, from the start of this month.
Elaine Overton, senior infection control nurse at the trust, said: 'A lot of the information on hand hygiene is becoming a little tired. We hope this innovative tool will help further increase awareness.'
David Proctor, the devices creator, thought of it while visiting his hospital's maternity unit. 'Visitors walked straight past the alcohol gels sited outside the ward and ignored the signs requesting their use to help prevent HCAIs,' he said. 'I had to see if I could develop a simple and inexpensive product that could ensure their use.'