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How many times a day do you wash your hands? Have you ever noticed a colleague who doesn’t wash their hands as often as they should? It’s part of our routine, but when things are very hectic, it can be overlooked. And that can cause problems.

There’s Always Room for Improvement

Although it may seem like hospital personnel are continually washing their hands, many are not doing so as often as they should be. For example, hand hygiene compliance is only about 50 percent in the perioperative setting. That leaves quite a bit of room for improvement. And improvement is necessary because improper hand hygiene has serious ramifications.

Among those serious ramifications: hospital infections. They affect almost two million people, with 100,000 deaths, in the US every year. Up to 70 percent of the infections could be prevented with recommended protocols, including hand hygiene. The number of infections is alarming, and so is the number of deaths; the good news is that improving hand hygiene can make a big difference.

What Are the Guidelines?

When should you wash your hands? As you know, in healthcare, it’s essential to wash your hands frequently. This includes before touching a patient, before performing an aseptic task, and after touching a patient or the patient’s immediate environment. This isn’t an exhaustive list, but it offers good examples. A facility may have guidelines that go above and beyond recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) or another agency.

What’s the best way to do it? There are specific guidelines that apply whether you’re using alcohol-based hand sanitizer or soap and water. It’s important to note that speed isn’t the goal; it’s more important to do a thorough job. In either case, it’s essential to cover all surfaces, and the job should take around 20 seconds. If it’s less, you haven’t covered everything.

Getting Creative to Improve Compliance

Do you know that colleague who doesn’t always practice the best hand hygiene? Next time, he or she may be caught red-handed. Some hospitals are experimenting with electronic monitoring techniques where alcohol dispensing stations keep track of how often healthcare workers lather up.

In some cases, hospitals are trying to improve compliance by making hand hygiene more accessible. When personal bottles of hand sanitizer were introduced at one hospital as part of a hand hygiene campaign, compliance went from 48 percent to 66 percent, and the overall hospital infection rate went from 16.9 percent to 9.9 percent. A sink or hand sanitizer dispenser may not be steps away at all times; this initiative allows the person to carry the sanitizer, ensuring that it’s accessible at all times.

Be Right Back – Going to Wash Our Hands

At 365 Healthcare Staffing Services, we specialize in the recruitment and placement of healthcare professionals in per diem, travel, and permanent assignments in healthcare facilities across the country. Hand hygiene is so important, and it’s something we all need to work on. Are you ready for your next assignment? We’re always ready to help! Call us at 310.436.3650, and let’s get started.

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