Nurse Hand Washing Is Key to Infection Control

Here's how to do it properly

Good hand hygiene is one of the most important actions healthcare workers can take to reduce the spread of infection while increasing quality. In fact, quality of care suffers when people do not wash their hands. While all health professionals have a responsibility to do this, it is especially important that nurse hand washing be particularly monitored in health facilities.

Hand hygiene and good infection control practices in nursing homes and other care settings can go a long way in helping contain germs and disease. The Guide for COPD offers some great tips:

  • Good hand hygiene includes handwashing with soap and water and using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer in between washings.
  • Avoid close contact by staying away from congested crowds or from anyone who is sick.
  • Cover your nose and mouth when you sneeze with a tissue. Throw the tissue away promptly and then wash your hands.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth as germs are easily transmitted.
  • Stay home from work if you get sick. This helps to keep the virus from spreading to others.

Teach Your Staff Proper Hand Washing

  1. Wet your hands using warm, running water. Add soap.
  2. During the hand washing process, rub your hands vigorously for a minimum of 20 seconds, paying special attention to the backs of your hands, wrists, in between your fingers and underneath your fingernails.
  3. Rinse well while leaving the water running.
  4. With the water continuing to run, use a single-use towel and pat your hands dry.
  5. Turn off the water faucet using the paper towel covering your clean hands.

Have Fun With Hygiene

Make hygiene and infection control fun and it will reinforce the messages you want to convey and help staff to develop lasting habits. One hospital in N.C. has won awards for its hand hygiene program. Novant Health feels so strongly about hand hygiene and improving the quality and safety of patient care, it makes its resources available free of charge to other organizations. Find easily downloadable marketing materials at their site.

And as they correctly state - "Keep in mind that results can be achieved only by changing the culture of your organization and making people accountable for their behavior. It starts at the top and requires everyone's support."

For generations, hand washing with soap and water has been considered a measure of personal hygiene. Only in the last two centuries has the link between handwashing and the spread of disease been clearly established.

Studies have documented that the area under the fingernails or in chipped or cracked nail polish often harbors high concentrations of bacteria. Artificial nails and chipped nail polish should be avoided.

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