World Hand Hygiene Day – Southcoast Health

Saving Lives – It’s in Your Hands

Hand Hygiene Day is May 5

Be a Hand Hygiene Hero! Keeping our hands clean protects against infection.

The Centers for Disease Control shares information on hand hygiene, addressing the myths and misperceptions about the practice and empowering everyone to participate. 

TRUTH: Alcohol-based hand sanitizer is more effective and less drying than using soap and water.

THE NITTY GRITTY: Compared to soap and water, alcohol-based hand sanitizers are better at reducing bacterial counts on hands. They are also effective against multidrug-resistant organisms (e.g., MRSA). 

Additionally, alcohol-based hand sanitizers cause less skin irritation than frequent use of soap and water. But, soap and water does work well and is always worth doing – thoroughly, for 20 seconds!

TRUTH: Using alcohol-based hand sanitizer does not cause antibiotic resistance. 

THE NITTY GRITTY: Alcohol-based hand sanitizers kill germs quickly and in a different way than antibiotics. There is no chance for the germs to adapt or develop resistance.

TRUTH: Alcohol-based hand sanitizer does not kill C. difficile, but it is still the overall recommended method for hand hygiene practice.

THE NITTY GRITTY: Always use gloves when caring for patients with C. difficile. In addition, when there is an outbreak of C. difficile in your facility, wash your hands with soap and water after removing your gloves.

TRUTH: Some healthcare providers miss certain areas when cleaning their hands.

THE NITTY GRITTY: Using alcohol-based hand sanitizer becomes a habit, and sometimes healthcare providers miss certain areas: Fingertips, thumbs, between fingers. 

TRUTH: The amount of product you use matters. 

THE NITTY GRITTY: Use enough alcohol-based hand sanitizer to cover all surfaces of your hands. Rub your hands together until they are dry. Your hands should stay wet for around 20 seconds if you used the right amount. 

TRUTH: Glove use is not a substitute for cleaning your hands. Dirty gloves can soil your hands. 

THE NITTY GRITTY: Clean your hands after removing gloves to protect yourself and your patients from infection. 

TRUTH: On average, healthcare providers perform hand hygiene less than half of the time they should. 

THE NITTY GRITTY: When healthcare providers do not perform hand hygiene 100% of the times they should, they put themselves and their patients at risk for serious infections.

Southcoast Health in partnership with our infectious prevention specialist prioritizes the importance of hand hygiene for both its employees and the community. Improved adherence to hand hygiene (i.e., hand washing or use of alcohol-based hand rubs) has been shown to terminate outbreaks in health care facilities, to reduce transmission of antimicrobial-resistant organisms and reduce overall infection rates. To learn more about how you can protect yourself and others amid COVID-19, please click here