The significant impact of hand hygiene on prevention of Healthcare Associated Infections (HAIs) is well documented.1,2 During the recent COVID-19 pandemic we were all reminded of the importance of hand hygiene in both our professional and personal lives. Hand hygiene compliance around the world became an important focus in stopping the spread of disease.
Hand hygiene is a basic and effective intervention that is an integral part of our patient and staff safety culture, yet routine compliance is still challenged for up to 70% of healthcare workers.2 Inconsistencies remain despite clinical evidence showing that effective infection prevention measures that include hand hygiene can prevent up to 70% of HAIs.2 Multiple complexities in the healthcare environment continue to present barriers to improved compliance.
We can’t be reminded enough to TAKE ACTION with this foundational step in providing patient care. Keep the basics in mind to ensure appropriate technique and optimal timing for maximum effectiveness. The evidence acknowledges that alcohol-based hand sanitizers are the most effective way to clean hands and the preferred method in healthcare settings.3 Hand washing with soap and water is best when hands are visibly dirty, before eating and after using the restroom.3
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) the following is recommended:3
Use an Alcohol-Based Hand Sanitizer
- Immediately before touching a patient
- Before performing an aseptic task or handling invasive medical devices
- Before moving from work on a contaminated body site to a clean body site on the same patient
- After touching a patient or their immediate environment
- After contact with body fluids, blood, or any contaminated surfaces
- Immediately after removing gloves
Wash with Soap and Water
- When hands are visibly soiled
- After caring for a patient with known or suspected infectious diarrhea
- After known or suspected exposure to spores such as C. difficile or other similar outbreaks
In celebration of World Hand Hygiene Day 2023 let’s continue to give hand hygiene the priority and focus it deserves.
Post these simple step-by-step guides as a reminder of proper technique and timing to save lives!
- Mathur P. Hand hygiene: back to the basics of infection control. Indian J Med Res. 2011;134(5):611-20. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3249958/. Accessed April 27, 2023.
- Key Facts and Figures. World Hand Hygiene Day 2023. World Health Organization (WHO). https://www.who.int/campaigns/world-hand-hygiene-day/2023/key-facts-and-figures. Published 2023. Accessed April 27, 2023.
- Hand Hygiene in Healthcare Settings, Healthcare Providers, When to Perform Hand Hygiene. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). https://www.cdc.gov/handhygiene/providers/index.html. Last Updated January 8, 2021. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases (NCEZID), Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion (DHQP). Accessed April 27, 2023.
- Your 5 Moments for Hand Hygiene. World Health Organization. https://cdn.who.int/media/docs/default-source/integrated-health-services-(ihs)/infection-prevention-and-control/your-5-moments-for-hand-hygiene-poster.pdf?sfvrsn=83e2fb0e_16. Published 2009. Accessed April 27, 2023.