Today in the chart

Hand Hygiene 101

Thorough hand washing is the most effective deterrent to spreading infections in healthcare settings. Medical professionals are trained in hand-washing, but people get lax over time.

Thorough hand washing is the single most effective deterrent to the spread of infection in healthcare settings. Every medical professional is trained in how to do it, but over time, people get lax. Take a moment to check your process.

The CDC recommends a five-step technique: Wet, Lather, Scrub, Rinse, and Dry.

But there’s more to it than that because it is so easy to be contaminated by many bacteria and viruses.

Guidelines to Follow

  • Use a sink that drains, not a basin or standing water.
  • Use soap.
  • Rub hands together under running water for a minimum of 30 seconds.
  • Remove rings before washing, and keep nails short.
  • Do not rinse with hot water.
  • Use paper towels or an air dryer rather than a cloth towel to dry.
  • Turn off the faucet using a towel (do not touch it with your hands).

When is Hand Washing Necessary?

  • After using the toilet.
  • Before and after patient contact.
  • Before and after any antiseptic task.
  • After suspected body fluid contact.
  • After leaving a patient room, even if there was no patient contact.
  • Before and after consuming food.

What Kind of Soap?

Detergent soap is indicated for most situations, including exposure to spore-forming pathogens such as Clostridium difficile. When hands are not visibly soiled, an alcohol-based rub should be used to decontaminate hands. Do not rinse after using a rub.

Antimicrobial scrubs (such as chlorhexidine, iodine and iodophors, chloroxylenol [PCMX], and triclosan) designed to kill and remove transient microorganisms and reduce resident flora are not recommended for routine handwashing in healthcare. Still, they should be used in all presurgical settings.

Wearing Gloves

  • The use of gloves is not indicated for direct and indirect patient contact where exposure to body fluids is not a potential risk.
  • Gloves are indicated in all surgical procedures and for situations where exposure to body fluids is possible.
  • Routine hand washing with warm water and soap should be performed first before putting on gloves.
  • Gloves should be discarded in an appropriate receptacle immediately after use.
  • Wash hands with warm water and soap following the removal of gloves (as contamination of the skin is possible when removing them).

Other Resources

Subscribe to our M-F newsletter
Thank you for subscribing! Welcome to The Nursing Beat!
Please enter your email address