Accuracy of a radiofrequency identification (RFID) badge system to monitor hand hygiene behavior during routine clinical activities

Lisa L. Pineles*, Daniel J. Morgan, Heather M. Limper, Stephen G. Weber, Kerri A. Thom, Eli N. Perencevich, Anthony D. Harris, Emily Landon

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

59 Scopus citations


Background Hand hygiene (HH) is a critical part of infection prevention in health care settings. Hospitals around the world continuously struggle to improve health care personnel (HCP) HH compliance. The current gold standard for monitoring compliance is direct observation; however, this method is time-consuming and costly. One emerging area of interest involves automated systems for monitoring HH behavior such as radiofrequency identification (RFID) tracking systems. Methods To assess the accuracy of a commercially available RFID system in detecting HCP HH behavior, we compared direct observation with data collected by the RFID system in a simulated validation setting and to a real-life clinical setting over 2 hospitals. Results A total of 1,554 HH events was observed. Accuracy for identifying HH events was high in the simulated validation setting (88.5%) but relatively low in the real-life clinical setting (52.4%). This difference was significant (P <.01). Accuracy for detecting HCP movement into and out of patient rooms was also high in the simulated setting but not in the real-life clinical setting (100% on entry and exit in simulated setting vs 54.3% entry and 49.5% exit in real-life clinical setting, P <.01). Conclusion In this validation study of an RFID system, almost half of the HH events were missed. More research is necessary to further develop these systems and improve accuracy prior to widespread adoption.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)144-147
Number of pages4
JournalAmerican Journal of Infection Control
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2014


  • Compliance
  • Direct observation
  • Electronic monitoring
  • Hand washing
  • Infection control

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Infectious Diseases
  • Health Policy
  • Epidemiology


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