The 5 WHO Moments and Electronic Hand Hygiene Monitoring


By Amanda Holdan-Sinisi

5 who moments of hand hygiene

The 5 WHO Moments originated from a study published in 2007, The World Health Organization has identified “5 Moments for Hand Hygiene” that are still considered today as the ultimate model for hand hygiene protocols.1 By accounting for every instance microbial transmission may occur and framing them to five fundamental points, this set of practices is both extensive and practical. These moments highlight that healthcare professionals should wash their hands:

  1. Before touching a patient,
  2. Before clean/aseptic procedures,
  3. After body fluid exposure/risk,
  4. After touching a patient, and
  5. After touching patient surroundings.

This guide was created with the knowledge that proper hand hygiene is the single most effective way to prevent the spread of infection. Specifically, Healthcare-Associated Infections (HAIs). HAIs not only threaten patient and staff safety, but they can cost hospitals tens of thousands of dollars per case. Most HAIs are avoidable, but they still occur due to lack of hand hygiene compliance—leaving the respective hospitals to pay for the consequences. HAIs are so plentiful that the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare (CMS) created an HAC reduction program.

Direct observation was originally thought of to be the “gold standard to monitor compliance with optimal hand hygiene practice”1 regarding the 5 WHO moments. However, it is understood now that direct observation is not reliable due to the Hawthorne effect and limitations on how accurately humans can collect this type of data.

Electronic hand hygiene monitoring is a proven solution in ensuring that proper hand hygiene is being performed when necessary. BioVigil supports all 5 WHO moments by prompting hand hygiene at every room entry/exit and by capturing all in-room hand hygiene events. This creates holistic hand hygiene compliance that is backed by client data and outcomes.

The proof is in the numbers: with direct observation, a hospital might record 200 hand hygiene events a day or 2,400 a year. With an electronic hand hygiene monitoring solution like BioVigil, recorded hand hygiene events increase to 20,000 a day or 5.8 million a year. That is a significant increase in the amount of WHO moments accounted for, with substantially lowered risks of infections for patients.

Is your hospital missing any of the 5 WHO moments or recording only three digits worth of hand hygiene events per day? Electronic hand hygiene monitoring can help you with that.


1My five moments for hand hygiene