Last week, the Centers for Disease Control said that the likelihood of a hospital patient in the United States contracting an infection during their stay is one in 25 patients.
"Although there has been some progress, today and every day, more than 200 Americans with healthcare-associated infections will die during their hospital stay," said CDC Director Tom Frieden. "The most advanced medical care won’t work if clinicians don’t prevent infections through basic things such as regular hand hygiene."
The problem isn't that hospitals have neglected hand sanitizers. In the hospitals I've been in, they're everywhere. The problem is that while they're often near doors, they're also easily overlooked, especially for doctors and nurses in a hurry to get from patient to patient.
But here's one simple design solution that would be a good start: the sanitizing door handle.
PullClean, a smart door handle designed by The Agency of Design in the U.K. and Altitude Medical, has hand sanitizer built into the handle. With some initial training of hospital staff about what the blue area at the bottom of the handle does, it's not difficult to imagine opening doors and hand sanitizing in one motion becoming second nature.
According to Altitude Medical, an early version of the PullClean was tested at a "leading hospital" in the United States. If the results of this trial are any indication, the impact of this door handle on infections could be huge. That's because the rates of hand sanitization jumped from 22 percent to 77 percent when the handle was used. The results of the trial were published in the American Journal of Infection Control.
But at $200 per handle, PullClean isn't just a method for distributing hand sanitizer. It's also equipped with software called CountClean that monitors the rate of hand sanitization for each door handle. It also keeps track of the amount of sanitizer in each door.