10 Expert-Recommended Hand Hygiene Practices


Newly released expert guidance on hand hygiene in healthcare facilities, published in Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology, emphasizes best practices for implementing and optimizing hand hygiene programs to reduce the spread of healthcare-associated infections.


The guidance is part of a collaborative effort by the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America, the Infectious Diseases Society of America, the American Hospital Association, the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology and The Joint Commission.

"For more than 150 years, we have known the link between hand hygiene improvement and reducing HAIs," Janet Haas, PhD, RN, co-lead author of the guidelines, said in a news release. "Yet adherence to recommended practices remains low. While there can be barriers to optimal hand hygiene in healthcare settings, poor hand hygiene undermines care and threatens patient safety."

Here are 10 basic practices for hand hygiene recommended for all acute-care hospitals, gleaned from the new guidance:

1. Select appropriate products, such as alcohol-based hand rubs with at least 62 percent alcohol for routine hand hygiene and an ABHR specifically formulated for surgical use when used for surgical antisepsis.

2. Strategically place hand hygiene equipment and products to provide convenient access and make sure they are refilled as often as required. Counters in product dispensers can help show which dispensers are or are not being used.

3. Involve healthcare workers when choosing products, as some products can cause skin irritation and therefore impact adherence to hand hygiene protocols.

4. Perform hand hygiene for the following events:
•    Before and after direct patient contact
•    Before handing medication in anticipation of patient care
•    Before inserting an invasive device
•    Before and after handing an invasive device
•    Before moving from a contaminated body site to a clean body site
•    After removing gloves
•    After contact with blood or bodily fluids
•    After contact with the patient environment

5. Clean hands with soap when they are visibly dirty.

6. Assess barriers to hand hygiene with frontline workers to find relevant interventions.

7. Implement a bundle to improve adherence that directly address an organization's biggest barriers.

8. Educate healthcare workers on proper hand hygiene and ensure competency.

9. Measure adherence through direct observation, product measurement or automated monitoring.

10. Provide feedback on performance.

More Articles on Hand Hygiene:
Proper Hand Hygiene Allows for Safe Clinical Use of Smartphones
Auditor Presence Greatly Increases Hand Hygiene Rates
Hospital Elevator Buttons More Germy Than Bathrooms


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