What You May Not Know about Hand Hygiene – And Really ShouldPosted on by
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:
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.
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.