Hand Hygiene

The single most important infection control measure to prevent the transmission of bloodborne pathogens is hand hygiene.

New guidelines developed by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and infection-control organizations recommend that health workers use an alcohol-based hand rub (a gel, rinse or foam) to routinely clean their hands between patient/resident contacts, as long as hands are not visibly dirty. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers which don't require water are an excellent alternative to hand washing, particularly when soap and water aren't available. According to CDC, alcohol-based hand rub is actually more effective than soap and water in killing bacteria and viruses that cause disease.

RECOMMENDATIONS

  • Alcohol-based hand rub: Use alcohol-based hand rub if hands are not visibly soiled for routinely decontaminating hands.
  • Soap and water handwashing: Wash with non-antimicrobial or antimicrobial soap and water if hands are visibly dirty, contaminated, or are visibly soiled with blood or other body fluids, before eating or after using the restroom.
  • YOU MUST USE SOAP AND WATER:
    • IF A PATIENT/RESIDENT HAS CLOSTRIDIUM DIFFICILE.
    • WHEN ANTHRAX IS SUSPECTED OR CONFIRMED.
    • IF YOU ARE PERFORMING ANY PROCEDURE WITH POSSIBLE STOOL CONTAMINATION.

INDICATIONS FOR HAND HYGIENE

  • Before and after treating each patient/resident.
  • Before glove placement and after glove removal.
  • After barehanded touching of inanimate objects in the immediate vicinity of the patient/resident or likely to be contaminated by blood, saliva, or respiratory secretions.
  • When hands are visibly soiled.

HAND HYGIENE TECHNIQUES

Hand-rub with alcohol-based hand sanitizer:

  • Apply volume: based on manufacturer's recommendation, usually about 1.5 to 3 ml (about the size of quarter), of an alcohol gel or rinse to the palm of one hand, and rub hands together.
  • Cover all surfaces of your hands and fingers, including areas around/under fingernails.
  • Continue rubbing hands together until alcohol dries (about 15-25 seconds).

Handwashing with soap and water:

  • Turn on the faucet.
  • Wet hands and apply 3 to 5 ml of soap.
  • Lather well using vigorous rotary motion and friction for at least 15 seconds.
  • Be sure to wash all part of your hands, including palms, between fingers, backs of hands and around your wrists and thumbs.
  • Rinse under running water, letting water run toward your fingertips.
  • Dry your hands thoroughly with paper towels.
  • Use the paper towel to turn off faucet.

REFERENCES