Hand washing represents the single most important thing you can do to minimize the potential spread of disease in the clinical environment. Traditional hand washing involves lathering the hands with soap, vigorously rubbing together all surfaces of lathered hands for at least 10 seconds, and then rinsing the hands with water. Not too long ago, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention endorsed the use of no-rinse hand degermers (i.e. Purell) when access to a sink with running water may not be readily available or convenient. Within the confines of the patient-care setting, here are some basic hand washing tips to keep in mind:
- hands must be washed at the beginning of each patient appointment
- at the end of each patient appointment
- after glove use, immediately after removing gloves
- any time during the patient appointment it is necessary
- In terms of product selection, the use of liquid soap is essential as bar soaps are a breeding ground for germs. Medical grade liquid soaps are preferred since these products contain special emollients designed to minimize chapping or drying of the skin from excessive hand washing. The use of anti-microbial soap is not that critical. Keep in mind that while no-rinse hand degermers may be used as part of an effective hand-hygine routine, these products are alcohol based and can dry out skin; so, whever possible, wash you hands with liquid soap and water.