According to WHO, lack of, or wrong , hand hygiene is the single biggest cause of infections in hospitals and nursing homes. Studies show that only 50-75% of care staff perform proper hand hygiene.
A focused and structured approach to hygiene, as well as methods for infection prevention, can contribute to a reduction in health care associated infections. Read on for more tips about maintaining hand hygiene standards in the health care sector, from washing and disinfecting to drying and caring for dry hands and nails.
Insufficient hand hygiene is one of the most common causes for spread of infectious diseases, while good hand hygiene is the most important factor in preventing spread of microbes.
A holistic approach to hand hygiene includes a structured approach to the acts of washing, disinfecting, and drying the hands as well as caring for skin and nails. If you encounter the flu, colds, coughing, running noses or diarrhea in your surroundings, extra attention should be paid to hand hygiene.
In addition, proper hand hygiene is an essential part of good personal hygiene.
Studies show timing is essential for maintaining good hand hygiene. While particularly important for the health care sector, all industries should observe the following basic rules for good hand hygiene:
Even though established guidelines for handwashing and/or disinfection exist in most health care settings, correct hand hygiene is often difficult to carry out in practice. WHO estimates that only about 50-60 % have strict adherence to hand hygiene guidelines.
Most people know hand hygiene is important, and most people want to live up to high standards of hand hygiene, but few people actually comply. The reasons vary.
Some people forget, either because it is not a habit, they are too busy, or there are not enough places to wash or disinfect (no easy access). Since pathogens and microbes on the hands are not visible to the naked eye, hygiene is a difficult area to regulate.
Creating a habit and culture for hand hygiene in the workplace is essential.
Gloves should be worn by health care givers when performing any tasks related to personal hygiene or handling bodily fluids. They can be used for clean and unclean tasks to protect both caregiver and patient from contagion and contaminants. Just remember to:
Take good care of your hands and nails to ensure healthy skin and to remove bacteria from under the nails. It is very important to keep the skin on the hands clean and healthy to avoid dry, chapped skin and avoid development of ulcers. Ingrown nails can result in ulcers that are difficult to heal.
If you wash your hands a lot, be sure take care of the nails as part of a daily hygiene regimen. Use lotion to protect the skin on the hands and around the nails, and use an extra high-fat moisturizer during the night if your hands require extra care
Wet or moist hands transport more microorganisms than dry hands. Hands should always be dried immediately after washing and in a gentle manner to avoid friction between skin and towel, but the efficiency of depends on how and how long they are dried.
The most hygienic choice is single-use paper towels, as they are the safe, gentle and efficient choice that does not spread microorganisms to the hands or the surroundings. They should be disposed of in a safe manner immediately after use.
Multi-use towels can spread microorganisms to the hands as well as the surroundings and contribute to spread of infection. Hand dryers can spread microorganisms to the hands and the surroundings in a radius of up to 1.5. meters (5 feet). In addition, the warm air can actually increase the moisture levels on the hands, contributing to the growth of microorganisms.
Nothing can replace proper personal hygiene, but gloves and protective wear are essential aids in protecting yourself in the workplace
Wear the correct gloves for all care procedures and change the gloves when they are visibly dirty and whenever leaving the patient or residents room. Read more.
Protective wear: Use approved protective wear to protect the patient and the caregiver. Make sure you have the right products at your disposal – and you know how to use them. Read more.