DebMed® GMS™ Is World’s First and Only Hand Hygiene Compliance Monitoring System to Meet the WHO (World Health Organization) ‘Save Lives: Clean Your Hands’ Recommendation

Electronic hand hygiene compliance monitoring systems should be based

on the World Health Organization’s ‘Five Moments for Hand Hygiene’ to reduce the life-threatening, costly and unnecessary occurrence of healthcare-associated infections around the globe

CHARLOTTE, NC – DebMed®, the creator of the world’s first and only electronic hand hygiene compliance monitoring system based on the World Health Organization’s (WHO) “Five Moments for Hand Hygiene” is now the only hand hygiene system that meets the WHO’s C recommendation. The “Five Moments for Hand Hygiene” is from the WHO’s “Guidelines on Hand Hygiene in Health Care.”

As part of a major global effort to improve hand hygiene in healthcare, the “Save Lives: Clean Your Hands” campaign was launched in 2009 and is a natural extension of the WHO’s “First Global Patient Safety Challenge: Clean Care is Safer Care.”  This annual campaign advocates the need to improve and sustain the hand hygiene practices of healthcare workers at the right times and in the right way to improve patient safety by helping to reduce the spread of potentially life-threatening healthcare-associated infections (HAIs).

“We recognized as early as 2008 that any electronic hand hygiene compliance monitoring system would need to be based on the WHO’s ‘Five Moments for Hand Hygiene,’” said Paul Alper, vice president strategy and business development for DebMed, and one of the inventors of the DebMed GMS™ (Group Monitoring System). “We wanted to create a system that could help lead the change from direct observation to a real-time, research-based technology that was accurate, reliable and could help improve patient safety in healthcare settings worldwide. Electronic monitoring is an imperative solution for hospitals.”

Nearly 100,000 people die annually in the U.S. alone from HAIs, making them one of the leading causes of death after cardiovascular disease and cancer, according to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC). At any time, more than 1.4 million patients worldwide are suffering from HAIs. Proper hand hygiene is the number one way to prevent HAIs. However, the WHO Guideline reported that after completing a systematic review of 77 peer-reviewed hand hygiene articles published between 1981 and 2008, the baseline hand hygiene compliance rate was only 38.7 percent – and few followed the “Five Moments” as their observation criteria.

Currently, unobtrusive direct observation of hand hygiene practices by a trained observer is considered the gold standard for evaluating compliance. However, the WHO, in its Save Lives: Clean Your Hands newsletter dated November 12, 2012, recommended that “… promising innovative systems for hand hygiene compliance automatic monitoring … are now available and can significantly … minimize the human resources and time required. When the available resources permit, these new technologies should be the future approach for hand hygiene compliance monitoring, provided that they can detect the ‘Five Moments for Hand Hygiene.’”

The DebMed GMS electronically monitors healthcare workers’ hand hygiene events and provides feedback on compliance rates in real-time. The system reports compliance based on the WHO’s “Five Moments for Hand Hygiene” using an evidence-based, statistically valid algorithm and therefore meets the WHO recommendation for how new technologies should be configured.

Because electronic monitoring systems are impartial, unbiased and the only way to capture and report on 100 percent of hand hygiene events, not just the fraction of 1 percent recorded by human observation, they eliminate the human factor and, with it, the Hawthorne Effect. This phenomenon happens when people know they are being watched or observed — they tend to be on their best behavior. Research has shown that this will lead to overstated and unreliable compliance data.

A German study published in the American Journal of Infection Control, for example, concluded that, “To the best of our knowledge, this study provides the first data picturing a complete day, including shift- and indication-specific analyses, and comparing directly observed compliance rates with those calculated based on disinfectant usage, the latter of which revealed a 2.75-fold difference. Worrisomely, compliance rates were very low, especially concerning indications of greatest impact in preventing HAIs, such as before aseptic task. Thus, the gathering of additional data on compliance rates and the reasons for noncompliance is warranted” (Scheithauer, et al. AJIC 2009; 37:835-41).

About DebMed®

DebMed is the healthcare program of the Deb Group. The DebMed program offers innovative hand hygiene products, electronic monitoring technology and improvement tools to support hand hygiene compliance. The DebMed® GMS™ (Group Monitoring System) is the world’s first group monitoring system to report hand hygiene compliance rates in real-time based on the World Health Organization’s (WHO) “Five Moments for Hand Hygiene” and to date has recorded more than 16 million hand hygiene events.  The electronic monitoring system is being utilized in a four year, multi-site research project being conducted by the Columbia University School of Nursing and funded by a $1.2 million grant from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). It is the first study aimed at reducing healthcare-associated infections in pediatric long-term care facilities by improving staff compliance with hand hygiene guidelines. Deb is the first hand hygiene company in the world to provide actionable information along with its hand hygiene products to help drive best practices and improved outcomes for patients worldwide.

For more information on the study or DebMed, visit

About Deb Group

Possessing international scale and strong local market presence, Deb Group provides innovative skin care programs for all types of workplace and public environments, spanning industrial, commercial, healthcare and food sectors. Headquartered in the United Kingdom with U.S. operations based in Charlotte, NC, Deb Group is comprised of 21 companies operating in 16 countries. For more information, visit