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What You May Not Know about Hand Hygiene – And Really Should

Posted on by Blog Administrator

Ask for safe care. Ask for clean hands.

May 5th is World Hand Hygiene Day

We all know that cleaning our hands helps keep threatening germs away, but unclean hands continue to contribute to infections while patients receive care in healthcare settings. On any given day, about 1 in 25 hospital patients has at least one healthcare-associated infection. Many germs that cause these infections are spread from patient to patient on the hands of healthcare providers.

Studies show that, on average, healthcare providers clean their hands less than half of the times they should. CDC recommends that healthcare providers clean their hands before and after touching every patient. When these hand hygiene recommendations are not followed, both providers and patients are at risk for serious infections.

As a patient, here is what you should know about hand hygiene:

1. On average, healthcare providers clean their hands less than half of the times they should. Patient-Poster-Ask-For-Safe-Care

Ask your healthcare team questions. On your next visit to the doctor’s office or hospital, kindly remind your doctor to clean their hands before they begin. Some conversation starters include: “Before you start the exam, would you mind cleaning your hands again?” or “Would it be alright if you cleaned your hands again before changing my bandages?”

For other ways to be a safe patient, visit: http://www.cdc.gov/HAI/patientSafety/patient-safety.html

2. Remember, your hands can spread germs too!

You and your visitors should clean hands at these important times:

  • Before touching doorknobs
  • After touching bed rails, bedside tables, remote controls, or the phone
  • Before touching eyes, nose, or mouth
  • After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
  • Before and after changing bandages
  • Before eating (use soap and water)
  • After using restroom (use soap and water)

3. You are encouraged to ask your providers questions!

You might feel hesitant or not know how to start the conversation, but it’s okay to speak up for clean hands! Patients and visitors play an important role in preventing the spread of germs that cause serious infections. Doctors, nurses, and other healthcare providers also need to clean their hands frequently to keep you safe.

References:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Guidelines for hand hygiene in health-care settings: recommendations of the Healthcare Infection Control Practices Advisory Committee and the HICPAC/SHEA/APIC/IDSA Hand Hygiene Task Force. MMWR 2002, 51:1-45.

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22 comments on “What You May Not Know about Hand Hygiene – And Really Should”

Comments listed below are posted by individuals not associated with CDC, unless otherwise stated. These comments do not represent the official views of CDC, and CDC does not guarantee that any information posted by individuals on this site is correct, and disclaims any liability for any loss or damage resulting from reliance on any such information. Read more about our comment policy ».

    I’m a Case Manager at Homeless Solutions, Inc. I want to know what’s the proper procedure to washing your hands daily. Can an individual develop and OCD issue from constantly washing their hands?

    Any recommendations on some good Quality Assurance Studies/Exercises that can be run in outpatient, office and clinic areas that would help to bring attention to our automatic hand cleansing behaviors?

    I would like information on the procedures that should be in place in a skilled nursing facility regarding hand washing and hand hygiene. Thanks Dr. Harrison

    Totally agree with this campaing looking for Physicians manain alway Clean Hands.But surprises me, that some Physicians, need to remember this basic medical prevention, to infection.Obviously, it is important, to mantain this campaing, to non-healthcare providers, like people , working in Restaurants-in Cafeteria of Colleges and Hospitals-in Bakeries-and others places where are selling food etc etc

    Clean Hands Count!!!!
    Everyone,
    Preventing the spread of contagious infections in hospitals and healthcare facilities requires focus from every healthcare worker.

    Join us as we support The World Health, The CDC and hundreds of White House Partners with the Clean Hands Counts campaign.

    We support this global effort to prevent hospital acquired infections.

    Clean Hands Count – Pass It On

    Ty and Carole Moss
    Founders
    Nile’s Project
    Patient Safety<Public Health<Education<Awareness<Action

    Clean Hands Count!!!!
    Everyone,
    Preventing the spread of contagious infections in hospitals and healthcare facilities requires focus from every healthcare worker.

    Join us as we support The World Health, The CDC and hundreds of White House Partners with the Clean Hands Counts campaign.

    We support this global effort to prevent hospital acquired infections.

    Clean Hands Count – Pass It On

    Ty and Carole Moss
    Founders
    Nile’s Project
    Patient Safety<Public Health<Education<Awareness<Action

    this campaign brings things more up to date although hand hygiene is hand hygiene anything we can do to keep everyone in compliance and cleaning hands frequently.

    This is so important as Viruses and Bacteria become resistant to antibiotics. Cross infections do occur in hospitals for real.

    The email that was sent out stated:
    • Alcohol-based hand sanitizer is more effective and less drying to the skin than using soap and water.
    • Using alcohol-based hand sanitizer does NOT cause antibiotic resistance.
    While I use alcohol in a pinch and to supplement hand washing, I think it should be made clear that is its not a substitute. The reason being is alcohol isn’t effective against Norovirus or C. diff spores for example. Also, plain soap doesn’t cause antibiotic resistance, so make it clear that you are speaking of triclosan related products, which are also endocrine disrupters and should not be used.

    Our materials/messages are focused on healthcare settings. Follow these five steps to properly wash your hands in community settings:

    -Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap, and apply soap.
    -Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Be sure to lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
    -Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds.
    -Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.
    -Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.

    Thank you for our partners at the CDC for the great campaign reminding us as healthcare professionals about the most important intervention that we can do to reduce the transmission of HAIs. What I love most about this campaign is the focus on engaging patients in hand hygiene as well. Great campaign, and I plan to put it to good use.

    I am happy to read about your campaign. Three years ago I developed osteomyelitis after bone surgery. I battled it for 3 years and finally had the bone removed and had a spacer rod inserted in place of my humerus. I lost most of the limited arm movement that I previously had. Perhaps had someone read your article before being in the operating room, I might still have arm function!

    We studied* dental students wearing finger rings under nitrile exam gloves during dental procedures. Gloves over hands with rings had significantly more tears and were significantly more contaminated with oral streptococcus than those without. Rings of any sort should never be worn under gloves!
    *Nadikuda, S., Staat, R.H., Carrico, R.L., Lorenz, D.J., and Gettleman, L.: Finger Rings Under Gloves: Cross-Contamination and Tears During Clinical Procedures. J. Dent. Res., Abstract No. 1375, 2011.

    i have written in a hospital disinfection textbook that shaking hands in hospitals should be banned. i quit doing it years ago. it’s a nasty habit. unfortunately the japanese who knew this now shakes hands.

    This topic goes back to the basics of nursing. Good hand hygiene saves lives. My hospital has placed hand gel stations outside of patient rooms, rest rooms, near elevators, etc. However, they do not have any on our psychiatric unit. In fact, PPE like gloves, require staff to enter a locked room to use. The unit does not have traditional soap and water with sinks in the hallway as an alternative. What suggestions do you have for reducing infection on this type of unit?

    I believe this blog brings a very relevant issue to the table in regards to current health care. As a student nurse I see time and time again where providers don’t conduct hand hygiene either altogether, or only part-time as this blog suggests. I found it very interesting, albeit rather disgusting and dangerous, to see the very individuals who were in charge of teaching us future providers, not abide by guidelines that seemed so elementary.
    On med-surg floors nurses were notorious for walking in to a patient’s room and handling dressing changes, changing IV lines, and soiled linens without even at least gloving up, even if they didn’t wash their hands first. More surprisingly, I saw the nurses grab the door handle, and “sanitize” their hands with foam sanitizer and move on to another patient room without ever washing their hands.
    I felt it was very important in this blog that it was mentioned to speak up on your behalf or behalf of a family member if you don’t see your provider taking adequate standard precautions. As a student nurse, I have asked the nurses I’ve been assigned to what their hospital regulations are as far as standard precautions when I see them not wash their hands before or after patient contact, just to spark a reminder in their heads. I’ve also made it a point myself to wash my hands in front the patient so as to almost encourage the nurse by example to practice cleanliness which seemed to always work. I’m glad I came across this blog and I wish more providers and patients got to see it.

    Best Regards,

    Daniel

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