There has been a 30 percent drop in disease in a clinic in Milan, Italy, which offers an annual bonus of 3,000 euros to its nurses who work with premature babies for washing their hands properly.
An total bonus of 200,000 euros (265,000 dollars) is set aside for the 70 nurses at the Mangiagalli clinic who are rewarded with a portion if they respect the strict hygiene rules.
The staff are monitored on closed-circuit televisions while they wash their hands to make sure they use the right technique and spend the necessary amount of time scrubbing.
The level of bacteria on their hands is then controlled before they touch the newborn babies.
"Intensive neonatal treatment is one of the areas with the highest risk of infection," Fabio Mosca, head of neonatology at the clinic, told the Corriere della Sera daily announcing the drop in the spread of disease.
Mosca, who came up with the idea for the clean hands bonus, said high standards of hygiene were essential "because the patients are either premature babies, or seriously ill babies that are immunodepressed."