Hand Washing

Poor hand-washing compliance may be due to numerous factors including: inconvenience sink locations and shortage of sinks, soap, or paper towels; high patient census or bed occupancy rates; overworked staff members; and indifference or a lack of supervision on the part of managers. Hands are the most frequent means of transmission of microorganisms from contaminated people and surfaces to the staff themselves and to patients who are susceptible to infection.

Best Practices in Hand Washing (See endnote 19)

  • • Increase the ratio of hand-washing sinks and hand cleaner dispensers to the number of beds within the facility and place them in highly convenient areas close to the patient bed.
  • • Use mandatory short-term continuing education frequently to teach staff proper handwashing techniques for the areas they service and make violations of appropriate practice a serious demerit on annual job rating forms. Repeated problems of lack of hand washing or improper hand washing should result in disciplinary action by supervisors and managers.
  • • Place posters close to hand cleansing equipment stating that “Hand Washing Is Mandatory by All Personnel to Prevent Spread of Healthcare-Associated Infections.”
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