Hand Hygiene in Healthcare Settings
May 5 is World Hand Hygiene Day and the Clean Hands Count campaign aims to improve healthcare provider adherence to CDC hand hygiene recommendations, address the myths and misperceptions about hand hygiene, and empower patients to play a role in their care by asking or reminding healthcare providers to clean their hands.
What can you do as a Healthcare Professional to Prevent HAIs?
Clean your hands before and after every patient contact to protect yourself as well as your patients from infections. As a healthcare provider, you might need to clean your hands as many as 100 times per 12-hour shift, depending on the number of patients and intensity of care you administer.
Keep the conversation going. Talk with you patients and explain how and why caregivers clean their hands before, after, and sometimes during patient care. Let your patients know it’s okay to ask about hand hygiene and how they and their visitors can protect themselves by cleaning their own hands often.
Explain the facts about Alcohol-based hand sanitizers. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers are the preferred hand hygiene method in healthcare settings because they kill most of the bad germs that can make you and your patients sick. Overall they are more effective, and cause less drying of the skin than using soap and water, and alcohol-based hand sanitizers also do not create antibiotic-resistant superbugs.
"Alcohol-based hand sanitizers are the preferred hand hygiene method in healthcare settings because they kill most of the bad germs that can make you and your patients sick. Overall they are more effective, and cause less drying of the skin than using soap and water, and alcohol-based hand sanitizers also do not create antibiotic-resistant superbugs." - CDC
Understand the exceptions where alcohol-based hand sanitizers are not effective by themselves, such as in killing the common healthcare-associated infection know as C. difficile that causes severe diarrhea. Patients with C. difficile should wash their hands with soap and water, and their healthcare providers must always wear gloves when caring for them. The CDC Guidelines for Hand Hygiene in Healthcare Settings include techniques for washing hand with soap and water, which can be obtained at this link.
Key points of these recommendations when cleaning hands with soap and water are:
Other entities have recommended that cleaning your hands with soap and water should take around 20 seconds, but regardless of the time needed, the focus should remain on cleaning your hands at the right times to reduce contamination between caregiver and patient.
Use Antibiotics Wisely. Studies indicate that 30-50% of antibiotics prescribed in hospitals are unnecessary or inappropriate. There is no doubt that overprescribing and inappropriate prescribing are contributing to the growing challenges posed by Clostridium difficile and antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Studies demonstrate that improving prescribing practices in hospitals can not only help reduce rates of Clostridium difficile infection and antibiotic resistance, but can also improve individual patient outcomes, all while reducing healthcare costs.
It is a provider’s responsibility to keep patients, providers and the community safe and to minimize the risk of spreading infections when preparing and administering every injection. Remember that needles and syringes are single-use devices. They should not be used for more than one patient or re-used to draw up additional medication. 1 Needle + 1 Syringe + 1 Time = 0 Infections.
The One & Only Campaign, a public safety campaign led by the CDC Foundation and the Safe Injection Practices Coalition (SIPC), offers a wide array of evidenced-based information about safe injection practices on its website where videos and safety presentations along with printable materials are available including the Healthcare Provider Toolkit.
Report outbreaks to your local health department to aid in the fight to contain and minimize infection transmissions, and continue receiving education in the areas of comparative effectiveness, quality and patient safety and prevention/care management. Several resources available include:
AHRQ PSNet - A national web-based resource featuring the latest news and essential resources on patient safety available at http://psnet.ahrq.gov/
TeamSTEPPS™ — Eligible for Continuing Medical Education (CME) or Continuing Education Units (CEU) if health care professionals attend the 2 1/2-day training session at one of the 5 National Implementation of TeamSTEPPS™ training centers available at http://teamstepps.ahrq.gov/trainingEligibility.htm
Infection Prevention and Control Training for Healthcare Professionals - a new online interactive infection control training program for healthcare professionals designed to address the first line of defense against healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) and the spread of germs in healthcare settings, available at this link.
And the “Let’s Talk Patient Safety: Reducing HAI Transmission Risk,” program to help healthcare professionals identify infection risks and prevent the spread of HAIs. This training provides free continuing education for healthcare professionals, including nurses, physician assistants, medical assistants, health educators, and other clinicians, which can be completed anywhere. It has two modules and takes approximately 30 minutes to complete the entire training, and is available at this link.