While it is common knowledge that hand hygiene is a simple yet effective way to prevent the spread of infections, on average, healthcare providers clean their hands less than half of the times they should.
Hand hygiene means cleaning your hands by using either handwashing (washing hands with soap and water), antiseptic hand wash, antiseptic hand rub (i.e., alcohol-based hand sanitizer including foam or gel), or surgical hand antisepsis.
During the course of a single appointment, there are usually multiple opportunities to perform hand hygiene.
Alcohol-based hand sanitizers are the most effective products for reducing the number of germs on the hands of healthcare providers. Therefore, alcohol-based hand sanitizers are the preferred method for cleaning your hands in most clinical situations.
The CDC recommends the following hand hygiene best practices:
When performing routine patient care:
|When to use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer||When to wash with soap and water|
|Immediately before touching a patient||When hands are visibly soiled|
|Before performing an aseptic task or handling invasive medical devices||After caring for a person with known or suspected infectious diarrhea|
|Before moving from work on a soiled body site to a clean body site on the same patient||After known or suspected exposure to spores (e.g., B. anthracis or C difficile outbreaks)|
|After touching a patient or the patient’s immediate environment|
|After contact with blood, body fluids or contaminated surfaces|
|Immediately after removing gloves|
|How to use alcohol-based hand sanitizer||How to wash with soap and water|
|Pour enough product onto hands to cover both hands||The CDC Guideline for Hand Hygiene in Healthcare Settings recommends:|
|Ensure that product covers all surfaces of hands and fingers.||When cleaning your hands with soap and water, wet your hands first with water, apply the amount of product recommended by the soap manufacturer to your hands and rub your hands together vigorously for at least 15 seconds, covering all surfaces of the hands and fingers.|
|Rub hands together until they feel dry—This should take around 20 seconds||Rinse your hands with water and use disposable towels to dry. Use towel to turn off the faucet.|
|Do not wipe or rinse product off hands.||Avoid using hot water to prevent skin from drying.|
When to wear gloves
It is recommended that healthcare providers wear gloves when contact with blood or other potentially infectious materials, mucous membranes, non-intact skin, potentially contaminated skin or contaminated equipment can be reasonably anticipated.
Important: Gloves are not a substitute for hand hygiene.
|How to wear gloves|
|If your task requires gloves, perform hand hygiene prior to donning gloves, before touching the patient or the patient environment.|
|Perform hand hygiene immediately after removing gloves.|
|Change gloves and perform hand hygiene during patient care, if
|Never wear the same pair of gloves to care for more than one patient.|
|Remove gloves carefully to avoid contaminating your hands.|
When performing surgery
Reducing skin flora on the hands of the surgical team for the duration of a procedure reduces the risk of bacteria being released into the surgical field if gloves become punctured or torn during surgery.
|How to perform surgical hand antisepsis|
|Remove rings, watches, and bracelets before beginning the surgical hand scrub.|
|Remove debris from underneath fingernails using a nail cleaner under running water.|
|Performing surgical hand antisepsis using either an antimicrobial soap or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with persistent activity is recommended before donning sterile gloves when performing surgical procedures.|
|When performing surgical hand antisepsis using an antimicrobial soap, scrub hands and forearms for the length of time recommended by the manufacturer, usually 2–6 minutes. Long scrub times (e.g., 10 minutes) are not necessary.|
|When using an alcohol-based surgical hand-scrub product with persistent activity, follow the manufacturer’s instructions.|
|Before applying the alcohol solution, pre-wash hands and forearms with a non-antimicrobial soap and dry hands and forearms completely.|
|After application of the alcohol-based product as recommended, allow hands and forearms to dry thoroughly before donning sterile gloves.|
|Double gloving is advised during invasive procedures that pose an increased risk of blood exposure.|
Medicom SafePure liquid hand sanitizer is tough on viruses and bacteria, yet gentle on skin.
Medicom SafePure 80% alcohol liquid hand sanitizer is a medical grade hand sanitizer that effectively kills viruses and bacteria on hands–anytime, anywhere–without the sticky residue often left by gel hand sanitizers.
For more information about Medicom’s complete line of medical examination and sterile surgical gloves, currently sold in Canada only, please visit the Gloves section of our website.