Hand hygiene refers to removing or killing microorganisms on the hands and is one of the most effective measures to prevent the spread of infections. There are serious health implications and financial costs associated with healthcare associated infections (HAIs), which makes hand hygiene a priority.
Hand hygiene is the single most effective way of preventing the transmission of infections. Because microorganisms can be spread by anyone, hand hygiene is everybody’s responsibility: staff, patients, residents, visitors, and volunteers.
Either alcohol based hand rub (ABHR, also known as hand sanitizer) or soap and warm water are accepted methods of hand hygiene:
- soap and water is preferred if you have contact with a patient who is known to have C. difficile or norovirus, or if your hands are visibly soiled
- otherwise, ABHR is as effective as soap and water – and will not dry out your skin.
Patients, volunteers, and visitors should be reminded of the importance of hand hygiene, especially before eating or preparing food, after using the toilet or other personal hygiene activities, before leaving their homes for public areas, and when returning home from public places.
Two important components of hand hygiene are glove use and hand care:
Your hands take care of others; do you take care of your hands?
Did you know that the risk of spreading infections increases if the skin on your hands is dry and cracked? Health skin is your best defence against infection.
You can protect your hands with a few simple tips:
You can download this information as a poster. (PDF file, 8×5 x 11)
|Choose Alcohol Based Hand Rub (ABHR) unless otherwise instructed by Infection Prevention and Control: the ABHR used in all BC Health Authority facilities contains moisturizers, and doesn’t wash away skin oils.|
|When using soap, wet hands before applying soap, and avoid extremely hot or cold water (use warm). Pat dry with paper towel instead of rubbing, and dry completely. (Rubbing rather than patting, and not drying hands completely, are two of the main causes of skin irritation.)|
|Make sure hands are not wet before putting on gloves, and remove gloves as soon as the task is finished. (And don’t forget you need to clean hands again after glove use!)|
|Use hand lotion if skin feels dry, and let it sink in before washing your hands again.|
Take care of your hands so that they can take care of you, your loved ones, and your patients.
If you think you have dermatitis or are experiencing hand/skin irritation:
- Notify your supervisor/manager.
- If you believe that you have dermatitis that is either caused by or made worse by your work, visit your doctor and maintain a log of any products that may be contributing to your symptoms.
- Report signs and symptoms to the Workplace Call Centre at 1.866.922.9464. An investigation report will be sent to your manager, who will follow up with you when conducting the investigation.
- If you think this is related to gloves, soap, hand sanitizer or any other product used within PHSA you need to report it by completing the BC Clinical and Support Services (BCCSS) Product Concern Form with your manager (you can find this form on your health authority’s intranet).
Correct glove use
Click to expand/close Gloves should be worn for:
When to use gloves
If gloves don’t protect against all germs, why do we use them?
Donning and Doffing
More important points:
Gloves should be worn for: