Why Hospitals Put Handwashing First
Bugs exist everywhere – outdoors, indoors, at home, at work, etc. In hospitals, they do more than merely exist – they thrive. In semi closed, high traffic places full of sick people they can ‘evolve’ in different ways that could result in germs that are resistant to antibiotics. They spread quickly through human contact and attack immuno-compromised patients. Every hospital has its own drug-tolerant population, and this makes handwashing in hospitals all the more critical.
Fortunately, most hospitals know handwashing with germ protection soap is integral to preventing the spread of infection. Every staff member in a hospital knows that continually washing their hands with soap is one of the best ways to prevent the spread of germs.
Hand washing in hospitals and the surgical hand washing procedure
Surgeons have a particular responsibility to thoroughly disinfect their hands because of their direct contact with patients. A lack of sterilisation could have very serious consequences, so surgeons are advised to prepare for operations (‘scrub in’) using the following surgical handwashing steps 1:
- Ensure that your facemask is comfortable and secure, and that your hands and arms are completely bare.
- Wet your hands and arms with a comfortably warm flow of water.
Scrub your hands and arms in this order:
a. Under your fingernails
b. Hands and arms up to 5cm above the elbow
c. Hands and halfway up the forearms
d. Hands only
- You should then dry your hands and arms using one sterile hand towel per arm. You should start with your arm and use a gentle dabbing motion, moving in the direction of the hand.
During this surgical handwashing procedure, surgeons must operate taps and soap dispensers with their elbows, making sure to keep their hands above the level of their elbows to prevent contamination. If they touch anything else during the process, they must restart.
Hand washing techniques for nurses
The handwashing technique for nurses and other caregivers is a little different – they are advised to adhere to the guidance given to the general public with regard to effective handwashing techniques. Here are the handwashing techniques 2,3 for nurses that help to limit the spread of disease:
- Wet your hands with clean water.
- Squeeze soap or hand wash onto your hands so that you have enough to cover entire surface of hands.
- Rub your hands together with your palms facing each other.
- Place your right palm over the back of your other hand and interlace your fingers, then repeat on the other hand.
- Rub your hands together palm to palm, making sure that your fingers are interlocking.
- Place hands palm to palm, with fingers facing opposite directions. Slide your hands away from each other and bend fingertips so that your hands are interlocked. Rub the backs of your fingers against the opposing palm.
- Using your right hand, make a fist around your left thumb and rub, then repeat on the other hand.
- Clasp the fingers of your right hand together and rub your left palm with a circular motion, then do the same on the other hand.
- Rinse hands with water.
- Dry thoroughly with a towel.
Studies have shown that introducing good hand hygiene practices in hospitals reduces the number of drug-resistant ‘evolved germs’. Hospitals know how important it is and we should, too. Our loved ones deserve the same level of care outside of the hospital. Clean hands protect you from catching diseases from people and things that have been contaminated and prevent the spread of infection.
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*As per tests conducted in accredited laboratories
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