Tag Archives: handwashing

World Hand Hygiene Day is May 5

Natasha Wright, RN, MSN
DHEC HAI Nurse Consultant

While there won’t be a cake with several tiers, beautiful gowns or champagne toasts, hand hygiene is definitely a subject worthy of its own day to “celebrate.”

In the pursuit of preventing all healthcare-associated infections (HAIs), the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) and the South Carolina Hospital Association (SCHA) urge all health care facilities and organizations to join us in highlighting the single most important practice supported by evidence in helping eliminate cross-contamination and reduce HAIs—proper and thorough hand hygiene2.

Up to 70 percent of HAIs that occur yearly could be prevented if health care workers follow recommended protocols, which include proper hand washing3. Even with all of the evidence of its effectiveness and emphasis placed on the importance of hand cleanliness, a 2010 study that examined research on global practices found that only roughly 40 percent of health care workers comply with recommended hand washing guidelines3.

A Few (Not-So-Fun) Facts:

  1. Studies show that some health care providers practice hand hygiene less than half of the times they should. Health care providers might need to clean their hands as many as 100 times per 12-hour shift, depending on the number of patients and intensity of care. Know what it could take to keep your patients safe1.
  2. 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 health care providers1.
  3. There are three areas most often missed by health care providers when using alcohol-based hand sanitizer: thumbs, fingertips and between fingers1.
  4. A few barriers to completely following recommended guidelines are3:
  • Inconvenient placement of sinks and/or hand sanitizer dispensers, or empty soap or sanitizer dispensers;
  • Health care workers concerned about drying out their skin;
  • Overlooking hand cleanliness due to the workload of a health care worker and/or a chaotic environment;
  • The belief that wearing gloves when providing care is sufficient in preventing the spread of germs.

Hand Sanitizer or Soap and Water1?

  1. An alcohol-based hand sanitizer is the preferred method for cleaning your hands when they are not visibly dirty because it:
  • Is more effective at killing potentially deadly germs on hands than soap;
  • Requires less time;
  • Is more accessible than hand washing sinks;
  • Reduces bacterial counts on hands;
  • Improves skin condition with less irritation and dryness than soap and water.
  1. Use soap and water when hands are visibly soiled and/or when working with a patient or an environment in which you may come into contact with contaminants.
  2. Although the amount of time for proper hand washing with soap and water varies from 15 seconds to 30 seconds (depending on the study), hands should be vigorously scrubbed for a minimum of 15 seconds.
  3. Remember “My 5 Moments for Hand Hygiene”4:
  • Before touching a patient;
  • Before clean/aseptic procedures;
  • After body fluid exposure/risk;
  • After touching a patient;
  • After touching a patient’s surroundings.

Still Room for Improvement

In a world where health care is continuously changing, one thing has remained constant—routine and thorough hand washing is essential for preventing the spread of germs (including the increasing threat of those resistant to antibiotics) and the development of HAIs in patients. While the health care field is far from the days when gloves were barely worn and hand hygiene was an afterthought, we are not at 100 percent compliance in our facilities. Whether it is through the use of the traditional soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizers, proper handwashing must continue to be highlighted and emphasized by all champions of infection prevention because it is one practice that will remain constant for years to come.

Useful Resources for World Hand Hygiene Day

Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Clean Hands Count Campaign

cdc.gov/handhygiene/index.html

World Health Organization (WHO) Save Lives: Clean Your Hands Campaign

Theme for 2017–Fight antibiotic resistance – it’s in your hands

who.int/gpsc/5may/en/

 References:

  1. CDC. (2016). Show Me the Science. cdc.gov/handhygiene/science/index.html
  2. Infection Control Today. (2017). infectioncontroltoday.com/topics/hand-hygiene.aspx
  3. Saint, S. (2016). Hand washing stops infections, so why do health care workers skip it? theconversation.com/hand-washing-stops-infections-so-why-do-health-care-workers-skip-it-58763
  4. WHO. (2017). My 5 Moments for Hand Hygiene. who.int/gpsc/5may/background/5moments/en/

Baby Poultry and Salmonella

Baby chicks and ducklings (poultry) are cute and especially popular this time of year, but they can carry Salmonella. Salmonella is a germ that can make people sick with diarrhea, vomiting, fever, and abdominal cramps.

So, it’s important to know that there are steps you can take to protect yourself and your family from getting Salmonella.

Steps to Reduce the Risk of Salmonella Infection

  • Always wash hands immediately after touching live poultry.
  • Adults should help children with washing their hands.
  • Give live poultry their own space to live, outside of your home.
  • Clean any equipment or material associated with raising or caring for live poultry outside your home.
  • Don’t snuggle or kiss live poultry, or eat or drink around live poultry.
  • Children younger than 5 years of age and other high-risk individuals including pregnant women, older persons and persons with weak immune systems, should not handle or touch chicks, ducklings and other live poultry. These animals should not be kept as pets in households with these high-risk individuals.

If your child is younger than five years of age, consider giving your child a stuffed animal rather than a live animal.

For more information, please visit this CDC web site, www.cdc.gov/features/salmonellababybirds/

Handwashing: The ‘do-it-yourself vaccine’

With all the visiting that occurs during the holiday season, germs can quickly and easily pass from person to person. When it comes to protecting yourself and others and putting a stop to the spread of germs, don’t underestimate the power of handwashing.

On its website, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention refers to handwashing as a “do-it-yourself vaccine.” Regular handwashing, particularly before and after certain activities, is one of the best ways to remove germs, avoid getting sick and keep from spreading germs to others.

Many diseases and conditions are spread by not washing hands with soap and clean, running water. If clean, running water is not accessible, use soap and available water. If soap and water are unavailable, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol to clean your hands.

So, when should you wash your hands? Here’s what the CDC says:

  • Before, during and after preparing food
  • Before eating food
  • Before and after caring for someone who is sick
  • Before and after treating a cut or wound
  • After using the toilet
  • After changing diapers or cleaning up a child who has used the toilet
  • After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
  • After touching an animal, animal feed, or animal waste
  • After handling pet food or pet treats
  • After touching garbage

Visit the CDC’s website for more information on handwashing. Also, view the video below for instructions on how to effectively wash your hands.

Wash Your Hands!

By Betsy Crick

Child-Washing-Hands

It’s back to school time!  Keeping hands clean is one of the most important steps we can take to avoid getting sick and spreading germs.

Many diseases and conditions are spread by not washing hands. Make sure your children know the proper way to wash their hands.

  • 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. Need a timer? Hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice.
  • Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.
  • Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.

Washing hands is best, but if soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers can quickly reduce the number of germs on hands in some situations, but sanitizers do not eliminate all types of germs.  Hand sanitizers are not as effective when hands are visibly dirty or greasy.

No child under the age of three years old should be permitted to use hand sanitizer, and no child of any age should be permitted to use hand sanitizer without supervision.

For more information, please visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) website.