6 Key Points From VHA's Directive on Hand Hygiene Practices

Here is a summary of six key points from the Veterans Health Administration's Directive on Hand Hygiene Practices.

According to the summary, all healthcare workers who may have direct contact with patients must do the following:

1. Use an alcohol-based hand rub or antimicrobial soap to routinely decontaminate their hands before and after having direct contact with a patient. 

Note: If hands are not visibly soiled, use an alcohol-based hand rub for routinely decontaminating hands. When hands are visibly dirty or contaminated with proteinaceous material or are visibly soiled with blood or other body fluids, wash hands with either a non-antimicrobial soap and water or an antimicrobial soap and water.

2. Use an alcohol-based hand rub or antimicrobial soap and water before inserting an indwelling urinary catheter, peripheral vascular catheter or other invasive devices that do not require a surgical procedure or before donning sterile gloves when inserting a central venous catheter.


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3. Put gloves on when contact could occur with blood or other potentially infectious materials, mucous membranes or non-intact skin. Remove gloves after caring for a patient. Do not wear the same pair of gloves for the care of more than one patient, and do not wash gloves between uses with different patients. Use an alcohol-based hand rub or antimicrobial soap and water to decontaminate hands after removing gloves.

4. Wash hands with an antimicrobial or non-antimicrobial soap and water whenever hands are visibly soiled or contaminated with body fluids; before eating; and after using a restroom.

5. Use either an antimicrobial soap or an alcohol-based hand rub with persistent activity before donning sterile gloves for surgical procedures.  

6. All healthcare workers (supervisory or non-supervisory) who regularly or occasionally provide direct, hands-on care to patients must not wear artificial fingernails or extenders.

Related Articles on Hand Hygiene:

Program More Than Doubled Nurse, Physician Hand Hygiene Compliance

Video Auditing in Addition to Feedback Can Improve, Sustain Hand Hygiene Practices

Multimodal Program Could Significantly Improve Hand Hygiene

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