Iowa Specialty Hospital

Proper Handwashing

September 6, 2018

by Christina Petersen
Infection Control Nurse

The first step to preventing transmission of pathogens from person to person is thorough handwashing. According to the CDC, on average, healthcare providers clean their hands less than half of the times they should; however, proper handwashing should be done after all of the following, at minimum:

•    Before, during, and after preparing food and before eating food
•    Before and after having direct contact with a patient's intact skin, such as taking a pulse or blood pressure, performing a physical examination, lifting a patient in the bed, etc.
•    After contact with blood, body fluids or excretions, mucous membranes, non-intact skin, or wound dressing.
•    After removal of gloves
•    After using the restroom
•    After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
•    After touching an animal
•    After touching the garbage

When cleaning your hands with soap and water, wet your hands first with water, apply soap and rub your hands together vigorously for 15-20 seconds, making sure to cover all surfaces of the hands and fingers. Then rinse your hands with water and use disposable towels to dry, use disposable towel to turn off faucet and also to open the door. Dispose of the paper towel in the garbage receptacles that is conveniently located next to the doors.

Alcohol-Based Hand Sanitizer is also available when soap and water is not readily available. When using hand sanitizer, put product on hand and rub hands together covering all surfaces. Rub hands together until hands feel dry which should take around 20 seconds.

In January 2018, Iowa Specialty Hospital implemented Handwashing Secret Shoppers throughout the organization that observes for hand hygiene compliance. The data that is collected is then returned to the Infection Prevention Nurse monthly.

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