Hand Hygiene – Why is it so important?

5th May 2020

At our practice, we take hand hygiene extremely seriously. It is one of the most important infection control measures that take place in any healthcare facility.

Hand washing is the single most effective way to prevent and control the spread of infections. You can easily spread certain “germs”, like viruses and bacteria.  Good hand hygiene will reduce the risk of things like flu, food poisoning and healthcare-associated infections being passed from person to person.

Hand Hygiene Day, celebrated every year on the 5th May, assembles people around the world to increase adherence to hand hygiene especially in health care services. Therefore, protecting health care workers and patients from infections.

Hand Washing

The main goal of the Global Hand Hygiene Day campaign is to recognize that handwashing is one of the most effective actions you can take to reduce the spread of pathogens and prevent infections, including the current COVID-19 virus.

In Particular, hand hygiene is a way of cleaning your hands so that you greatly reduce potential pathogens on your hands. It is considered a key measure for reducing the risk of transmitting infection among patients and health care workers.

As part of the 2020 campaign, WHO and partners aim to:

  • Make hand hygiene a global priority
  • Inspire hand hygiene and behaviour change
  • Engage with health care workers in their role in clean care and the prevention of infections.

WHO Hand Washing

What are the Steps of Hand Washing?

Step 1: Wet your hands and apply enough liquid soap to create a good lather.

Step 2: Rub Palms Together.

Step 3: Rub the Back of Hands.

Step 4: Interlink Your Fingers.

Step 5: Cup Your Fingers.

Step 6: Clean the Thumbs.

Step 7: Rub Palms with Your Fingers.

Step 8: Rinse your hands free of the soap under running water

Steps of Hand Washing

Why should you do this?

We are estimated to have around 1,500 bacteria living on each square centimetre of skin on our hands. This is in areas such as underneath the fingernails and between the fingers.

Lathering and scrubbing hands creates friction, which helps lift dirt, grease, and microbes from skin. Microbes are present on all surfaces of the hand, so the entire hand should be scrubbed for at least 20 seconds.

Areas Missed When Washing Hands

We should wash our hands before:

  • Eating
  • After arriving at work
  • After coughing or blowing your nose
  • Before making or eating food
  • After using the restroom

If you look at these factors, on average you should be washing your hands at least 11 times a day (3 x before eating, 8 x after using the toilet). Which means washing your hands more than 6 times a day should be an easy target to reach.

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