Importance of Hand Washing in Infection Control – 3 Points

Any health care environment big or small poses an ever present risk of infection often referred to as hospital acquired infection (HAI). And even an otherwise simple ailment can get serious in such a set up. That is why infection control is an integral part of a health care facility. It adopts a combination of measures like surveillance, investigation, management and also the use of practices including wearing the proper gear, maintaining cleanliness, disinfection and safe disposal. All these steps help to prevent the spread of infection, and contain it when necessary.
However there is another infection control measure that is always stressed on and finds place in any kind of instruction to effectively reduce the chances of an infection breakout; that measure is hand washing.
The following 3 points will tell you more about this extremely vital safety measure.
1. When to Use Hand Washing procedures
• Ideally you must wash your hands before any treatment but especially when conducting an invasive medical procedure like surgery or use of any invasive equipment. Furthermore hands must be washed before treating patients who are particularly vulnerable to any infection due to their medical condition or even when dealing with newborns. Finally hygiene must be maintained when attending to any wound that has resulted in broken skin, which makes for an easy entry point for infections.
• Besides this hands must be washed thoroughly after any procedure in which you have made contact with blood, any kind of bodily fluids, mucus membrane and also any contaminated instruments, surfaces and materials like gauze. While you must wash your hands between attending to different patients soon after you remove the gloves, you may also be required to wash hands when performing different procedures on the same patient to avoid issues of cross-contamination.
2. Using Effective Cleaning Agents
• Using plain soap in any of the available forms like liquid and bar, and then rubbing your hands vigorously to form lather helps to loosen and suspend any dangerous micro-organisms which can then be rinsed under running water. However remember that the bar should be kept on racks that allow it to dry off and the liquids must be replaced entirely without adding new liquid to the older one.
• Using an antimicrobial cleaning agent on the other hand not only kills any harmful organisms but also prevents their growth. This kind of ‘chemical’ hand washing must be employed when working with high risk patients or in such units.
3. Ample Hand Washing Facilities
• It is very important for every health care facility to have sufficient hand washing facilities complete with soap and running water set up at convenient locations. Such facilities must also be available adjoining rooms that perform invasive procedures or diagnostics.
Today there are several modern personal equipments and cleaning and disposal systems available to assist in infection control. However a simple procedure like hand washing still remains extremely vital and is in fact one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of infection, and thus must be followed at all times without fail.