June 27, 2011 -- The dancing docs of Paradise Valley are using a video with an infectious beat to remind colleagues to maintain life saving hygiene.
In a world where "going viral" is usually a bad thing, they are hoping that's just what happens.
The medical staff of Paradise Valley Hospital in National City, Calif., have completed their first video production, "Pump It." In it the scrub-clad staff slathers on soap and hand sanitizer to their version of the Black Eyed Peas hit.
"It just took on a life of its own," said Sherilyn Fagan, the hospital's manager of infection control. Hundreds of the Southern California center's staffers stepped up to get down for hand hygiene. And that enthusiasm translated into a "major improvement" in hand washing, Fagan said.
"I can go around preaching until I'm blue in the face. But this really brought home how important it is for everyone to wash their hands."
The video was one of nearly 40 submitted to the country's first infection prevention film festival. The inaugural event, which will run at this year's Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology meeting in Baltimore, is no Cannes. But organizers hope it will raise awareness of a problem that plagues hospitals nationwide.
"It's so great to see your colleagues work hard using their talents, their skills, and their knowledge to come up with something that has such a strong message," said meeting chair Vickie Brown. The winning video will kick off the three-day meeting of more than 3,500 health care professionals from across the country. There's no red carpet, Brown said, but there will be popcorn.
Hospital-acquired infections, like those spawned by the sinister superbug methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), sicken more than 2 million people each year in the United States prompting an estimated 99,000 preventable deaths. And they often come from the very people trying to heal -- the doctors and nurses who, in a hurry to help, neglect to wash their hands.
"If you have six patients that you're taking care of, you get so busy running from one task to another to another and hand hygiene sometimes suffers," said Fagan. "Unless you wash your hands between every patient, you could very easily spread an infection."
Doctors and nurses know frequent hand washing can dramatically cut the infection risk, "but knowing and doing are different things," Fagan said. She hopes Paradise Valley Hospital's videos, set to catchy tunes like "Pump It" and Michael Jackson's "Beat It," will remind staff not to skimp on sink time.
Other videos submitted to the film festival include "I Watch the Line," a Johnny Cash-inspired tune about the infection risk of central lines, and "Hit Me With the Flu Shot."
Not all the videos were so lighthearted. "Hands," created by University of the Pacific in California student Daniel Lieu, tells the story of a patient who gets an infection with a rap set to a moving melody.
"I came to you for healing… but you just made me sicker. I came to you for life… but you just made me die quicker."
Through his video, Lieu shared some shocking statistics. One in 20 patients will pick up an infection during a hospital stay. And up to 60 percent of these can be prevented with proper hand washing, which less than 50 percent of health care providers are thought to practice.
Lieu's take home message for hospital staff: Wash your hands often, sneeze into your sleeve, stay home if you're sick, cover your cough and get immunized.
Or, as the staff of Paradise Valley Hospital put it, "Germs wanna eat on us? MRSA better ease on up."