UChicago Medical Center's 24-hour 'Big Wash' event more than doubles hand-washing compliance

During the University of Chicago Medical Center's 24-hour Big Wash event in December, medical staff collectively washed their hands nearly 97,000 times — about once per second.

Over the course of 24 hours, hospital administrators used a GOJO-developed monitoring system made up of over 2,500 sensors to track when sanitizer and soap dispensers were used across the three-hospital campus. In hopes of achieving 100 percent compliance, the medical center also implemented educational charts, encouraging light-up signage, cookies, themed decorations and documented the whole day on social media under the hashtag #BigWashUCM.

Although the system overall didn't achieve perfect compliance, nearly a dozen units did and many others doubled their individual hand washing rates.

"The event highlighted an everyday priority — that sanitized hands are safe hands — in a fun way," Emily Landon, MD, hospital epidemiologist at the medical center, said in a news release. "It was really a triumph of excellent hand hygiene that has never been described anywhere before."

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