Blog » Playing a Hand in Infection Control
Nurses represent one of the largest working groups that make direct patient contact in health care. Hand hygiene is one of the most effective measures to prevent healthcare associated infections.
Infectious diseases are a particular risk to the very young, the elderly, those with pre-existing conditions, and people with compromised immune systems. Proper hand washing not only prevents nurses from getting sick, it also reduces the risk of infecting others.
Research has shown that while healthcare workers keep largely favorable attitudes towards hand washing, observed compliance rates are below 30%.
Reasons given by professionals for the lack of compliance to hand hygiene highlight several explanatory factors, including: work conditions (lack of time), infrastructures (lack of equipment), inadequate training, and skin irritations caused by frequent hand-cleaning.
Failure to perform appropriate hand hygiene is the #1 leading cause of health care associated infections and the spread of multi-resistant organisms, as well as a significant contributor to outbreaks.
Good personal hygiene plays a major part in reducing and eliminating the spread of germs and infections from person-to-person. It also helps in reducing the spread of infectious illnesses, including colds, flu, and other upper respiratory illnesses. A big part of personal hygiene is hand hygiene and incorporating safety measures in developing habits that will stave off illnesses can help to further reduce the spread of germs and infections.
When should hand hygiene be performed? As a general rule, nurses and bedside clinicians should wash hands:
The World Health Organization (WHO) provides official guidelines on handwashing best practices as follows:
It’s important to remember that the use of gloves does not replace the need for hand hygiene. Nurses should wear gloves when it can be reasonably anticipated that contact with blood or other potentially infectious materials, mucous membranes, or non-intact skin will occur. Remove gloves after caring for each patient and do not reuse gloves.
Celebrate International Infection Prevention Week (IIPW) 2018 next week from October 14-20! This annual initiative of APIC (Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology) is dedicated to raising awareness about the importance of infection control, while providing free downloadable resources and tools.
This year’s theme is ‘Protecting Patients Everywhere.’ Visit the IIPW 2018 website for additional information HERE.