According to the CDC, on any given day, about one in 31 hospital patients has at least one healthcare-associated infection (HAI). Approximately 2 million hospital patients develop an HAI each year. This is about 10% of all inpatients.
The most common healthcare-associated infections are bloodstream infections, pneumonia (associated with ventilator use), wounds, and urinary tract infections. Death from HAI may be as high as 90,000 patients per year.
HAIs cause excess suffering for patients, increased length of stays and cost billions of healthcare dollars each year.
While there are many things we do to prevent infections, you can’t provide safe patient care without clean hands. A simple fact is that clean hands save lives. Whether you use soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub, sanitizing your hands is the first step to take when caring for patients. Healthcare workers need to know when to perform hand hygiene to optimize patient safety.
The World Health Organization has identified times when hand hygiene is required.
Your 5 Moments for Hand Hygiene
- Before touching a patient: to protect the patient against harmful germs carried on your hands.
- Before clean/aseptic procedure: to protect the patient against harmful germs, including the patient’s own, from entering his/her body.
- After body fluid exposure risk: to protect yourself and the health-care environment from harmful patient germs.
- After touching a patient: to protect yourself and the health-care environment.
- After touching patient surroundings: clean your hands after touching any object or furniture in the patient’s immediate surroundings, when leaving, even if the patient has not been touched.