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Two Rivers: World Hand Hygiene Day May 5

Washing Hands (MGN)

Improve healthcare provider adherence to CDC hand hygiene recommendations.

Address the myths and misperceptions about hand hygiene.

Empower patients to play a role in their care by asking or reminding healthcare providers to clean their hands.

When should you clean your hands?

  • Before preparing or eating food
  • Before touching your eyes, nose, or mouth
  • Before and after changing wound dressings or bandages
  • After using the restroom
  • After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
  • After touching hospital surfaces such as bed rails, bedside tables, doorknobs, remote controls, or the phone

Which One? Soap and Water vs. Alcohol-Based Hand Sanitizer

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 handwashing sinks
  • Produces reduced bacterial counts on hands, and
  • Improves skin condition with less irritation and dryness than soap and water

How should you clean your hands?

With an alcohol-based hand sanitizer:

  • Put product on hands and rub hands together
  • Cover all surfaces until hands feel dry
  • This should take around 20 seconds

With soap and water:

  1. Wet your hands with warm water. Use liquid soap if possible. Apply a nickel- or quarter-sized amount of soap to your hands.
  2. Rub your hands together until the soap forms a lather and then rub all over the top of your hands, in between your fingers and the area around and under the fingernails.
  3. Continue rubbing your hands for at least 15 seconds. Need a timer? Imagine singing the “Happy Birthday” song twice.
  4. Rinse your hands well under running water.
  5. Dry your hands using a paper towel if possible. Then use your paper towel to turn off the faucet and to open the door if needed.

Clostridium difficile and Alcohol-Based Hand Sanitizer

  • Clostridium difficile is a common healthcare-associated infection that causes severe diarrhea.
  • C. difficile forms spores that are not killed by an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • The spores can be transferred to patients via the hands of healthcare providers who have touched a contaminated surface or item.
  • If you have a C. difficile infection, make sure your healthcare providers wear gloves when examining you.
  • The most important way that you can prevent the spread of C. difficile is by washing your hands with soap and water after touching potentially contaminated surfaces.

Alcohol-Based Hand Sanitizers Do Not Cause Antibiotic Resistance

  • The antimicrobial activity of alcohols can be attributed to their ability to denature proteins. They kill germs quickly and in a different way than antibiotics.
  • Alcohol-based hand sanitizers containing at least 60%-95% alcohol are most effective at denaturing proteins.
  • There is no chance for the germs to adapt or develop resistance.

Speak up for clean hands

Protect yourself by asking questions:

  1. Clean your own hands and ask those around you to do the same.
  2. Don’t be afraid to use your voice: it’s ok to ask your healthcare provider questions, such as:
  3. - “I didn’t see you clean your hands when you came in, would you mind cleaning them again before you examine me?”
  4. - “I’m worried about germs spreading in the hospital. Will you please clean your hands once more before you start my treatment?”
  5. Ask your loved ones to clean their hands too:
  6. - “I saw you clean your hands when you arrived some time ago, but would you mind cleaning them again?”
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