Good hand hygiene helps prevent the spread of the flu and other infectious illnesses
In the words of the Centers for Disease Control, “Hand hygiene is one of the most important ways to prevent the spread of infections.” If you are in training for a healthcare position, such as a home health aide, nursing assistant, patient care technician, or practical nurse, you will need to pay extra attention to good hygiene.
Why is hand hygiene so important in the field of healthcare? In healthcare jobs, you are in contact with many patients every day. You want to keep your patients as healthy as possible, and you also want to protect yourself and your family members. Doing all you can to prevent the spread of infections is extremely important.
You have probably already learned hand hygiene techniques in your career training program, but it never hurts to review the basics.
Knowing the facts about washing your hands
1. What should I use to clean my hands: soap or handrub?
- If your hands have visible dirt, soil, or other contaminants on them, you should use soap and water.
- If your hands are not visibly soiled, you should use an alcohol-based handrub.
2. During my workday, when should I wash my hands?
- Before having contact with a patient
- Before putting on gloves, if you will be inserting invasive devices, such as IVs, or urinary catheters
- After removing your gloves
- After having contact with a patient’s skin, even if the skin is intact
- After having contact with a patient’s non-intact skin, body fluids, excretions, or wound dressings
3. How should I use an alcohol-based handrub?
- Look at the label, and dispense the amount of handrub that the manufacturer recommends.
- Put the handrub on your palm, and rub both hands together. Be sure to cover all surfaces of your hands and your fingers. Keep rubbing until your hands are completely dry.
4. How should I wash my hands with soap and water?
- The first step is to wet your hands and your forearms.
- Look at the soap label, and dispense the amount of soap that the manufacturer recommends.
- Rub both hands together for at least 15 seconds. Be sure that the soap covers your entire hands, fingers, and forearms.
- Rinse thoroughly with water.
- Dry your hands thoroughly, using a disposable towel. Use the paper towel when you turn off the faucet.
5. When do I need to wear gloves?
- Wear gloves when you have contact with a patient’s body fluids, as stated in the Universal Precautions.
- Take off your gloves when you are finished with the procedure and wash your hands.
- Never wear the same gloves for more than one patient.
- Throw away your gloves safely.
- Do not wash your gloves.
A tip about fingernail hygiene:
- Trim your fingernails to ¼ inch.
- Natural nails are preferred over artificial nails. If you have artificial nails, keep them at ¼ inch.
- Artificial nails should not be used if you have direct contact with high-risk patients in the ICU, operating room, or other high-risk department.
The following recommendations come from the CDC’s Mortality and Morbidity Weekly Report (MMWR): Guideline for Hand Hygiene in Health-care Settings. If you would like more information, view the CDC’s Hand Hygiene in Healthcare Settings.
The Harris Casel Institute in Melbourne, FL specializes in preparing students for careers in the field of healthcare. Our school offers career training programs for Home Health Aide, Medical Billing & Coding, Nursing Assistant, Patient Care Technician, Phlebotomy/EKG, and Practical Nursing. To learn more, contact us through our simple online form.