Hospitals seek high-tech help for hand hygiene

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By JIM SALTER, Associated Press

RICHMOND HEIGHTS, Mo. (AP) — Hospitals have fretted for years over how to make sure doctors, nurses and staff keep their hands clean, but with only limited success. Now, some are turning to technology — buzzers, lights and tracking systems that remind workers to sanitize and chart those who don't.

Health experts say poor hand cleanliness is a factor in hospital-borne infections that kill tens of thousands of Americans each year. Hospitals have tried varying ways to promote better hygiene.

Since last year, SSM St. Mary's Health Center in suburban St. Louis has been testing a system developed by Biovigil Inc., of Ann Arbor, Mich. A flashing light on badges worn by workers changes colors when hands have been cleaned and tracks compliance.

It is among several being tried at hospitals around the country.

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