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The Importance of Hand Hygiene

Mar 21 2017, 17:46 PM

The transmission of pathogens on the hands of healthcare workers is the most common cause of cross infection. It occurs directly from patient contact, or indirectly via contact with the environment. Therefore, hand hygiene is considered to be one of the most important procedures in the prevention of cross contamination and cross infection.The importance of good hand hygiene should be emphasised in homes as well as hospitals and care homes. Hand washing falls into three main categories: Social, hygienic and surgical.

Social Hand-washing
A social hand-wash should be performed to leave the hands physically clean and to remove transient germs. It is an infection control process that remains the cornerstone of the control process.

There are said to be 5 moments for hand hygiene, which are considered to be the most fundamental times for hand washing to be undertaken.

  1. Before patient contact
  2. Before a clean/aseptic procedure
  3. After body fluid exposure risk
  4. After patient contact
  5. After contact with patient surroundings

The hand-wash should last at least 30 seconds with soap and warm water. Alcohol or gel foam can be used on visibly clean hands, as an alternative to a social hand-wash.

Hygienic Hand-wash
A hygienic hand wash should be used to remove or destroy transient micro-organisms and to reduce resident micro-organisms during times when surgical procedures are performed. An approved antiseptic detergent should always be used for a hygienic hand-wash,

Surgical Hand-wash
Surgical hand-washes are intended to decrease the risk of wound infections, should surgical gloves become damaged. When performing a surgical wash, the level of the hands should always remain above the elbows.

Antiseptic wash should be used, alongside a pre-packed sterile brush.

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