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Australian Shadow Shopping Company Reveals 90% of Doctors Don’t Wash Their Hands


NEW SOUTH WALES, Australia January, 2013 – In the US, 90 000 people die per year after picking up infections while already in hospital. That’s 247 people who lose their lives every day in one nation alone due to infections caught in a supposedly ‘sanitary’ location. A study published in a leading medical journal, Clinical Infectious Diseases, found that doctors were washing their hands only 10 per cent of the times that they should be.

Heather Cullen, director of Australian shadow shopping company ‘Shadow Shopper’, says, “The results in the US have been mirrored in Australia where the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne observed similar rates of 9% washing hands, yet the medical staff reported that they washed their hands 50 to 95% of the time.”

“Doctors are truthful, dedicated and respected professionals so this finding can be disturbing to many. But it is important to note that they really didn’t lie. They really thought they were washing their hands when they should.”

Shadow Shopper Australia employees, in their extensive experience testing and measuring employees’ adherence to policies and levels of service expected, has come to understand that the human mind cannot handle two different pictures of one’s self at one time and ‘resolves’ this. This process is called cognitive dissonance.

“The doctors knew that good doctors would wash their hands when they should. They knew that they were good doctors. So, obviously, they must wash their hands when they should, hence the difference between the observed and reported incidence,” Heather says.

This is something that occurs in every organisation. According to Shadow Shopper, people do what’s ‘inspected’, not what’s ‘expected’. So when the US hospital installed monitoring cameras with real time feedback, handwashing levels went from 10% to 80%. And when the Royal Children’s Hospital did the same they went from 9% to 81%. Cameras are now being installed in hospitals around the world.
Heather’s message is this: “What gets measured, gets done.”

Lou Gerstner, the CEO who took IBM from basket case to success, lamented that executives did not understand this. Management think that if they train people to do something they will do it. But employees have conflicting priorities. They figure that if something is never followed up its probably not that important and that’s why shadow shopping programs are so important – they measure the employee’s behaviours and ensure they are following policies.

Heather understands the sad truth that many organisations have dealt with mystery shopping companies before that provided the organisation with absolutely no useful information they could base decisions on.

Heather knows this because she’s seen the horror stories first hand and had to pick up the pieces for the organisation when they’ve called in  Shadow Shopper to help. So what does Shadow Shopper offer that’s different? The most advanced shadow shopping programs in Australia. Well-designed programs that produce relevant, reliable and valid reports based on hard data and evidence gathered in the field that organisations can base business decisions on. To find out more about ensuring employees do what’s expected – by making it inspected – visit Shadow Shopper Australia’s website


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