Handwashing: The Number One Prevention Measure
The most important and efficient infection prevention measure for all healthcare providers is hand washing. Hands should be cleaned before each procedure or contact with a patient. Hands must be cleaned after lunch, breaks, smoking, bathroom visits, and contact with any other patient or contaminated equipment. The hands of nurses, physicians, therapists, technicians, etc.must all be cleaned. All healthcare workers’ hands become contaminated every time they come in contact with people, equipment, doorknobs, the telephone, their faces, etc. Everyone should demand that his/her nurses, doctors, etc. have washed their hands before they touch or treat.
Cleaning hands should be by use of the alcohol hand sanitizer which is a spray bottle mounted on the wall in every patient room and department of the facility whenever hands are contaminated but not visibly soiled. If the hands are visibly soiled, then soap and water should be used.Soap dispensers are mounted in every patient bathroom and department. The alcohol hand sanitizer is the preferred method of cleaning because the alcohol gets under fingernails, in and around cuticles, and kills more germs, more quickly. The alcohol hand sanitizer also contains lanolin which protects your hands from irritation and dryness. The alcohol cleaner will be less harsh on your skin than soap and water.
Likewise, a patient should clean their hands often when he/she has had surgery or has a medical illness. Hands can become soiled by contact with furniture, linens, meal trays, etc. when in the hospital or at home. Therefore, whenever a person has surgery, he/she should wash their hands frequently and refrain from touching the surgical wound, IV site, etc. with the hands that are not clean. Always wash your hands after using the bathroom facilities.