There is a science not only to how we clean our hands, but when.
Healthcare staff can take all of the right precautions when cleaning their hands—using the most effective product, scrubbing in all the right places, and rubbing for the correct amount of time—but if they do not adhere to each of the 4 Moments of Hand Hygiene, they are placing user, and themselves, at risk.
“We conduct rigorous audits across the CIUSSS of each of the four moments of hand hygiene, and we see, time and again, that compliance is especially low during the first moment,” says Gracia Kasoki Katahwa, Nursing Consultant in Infection Prevention and Control (IPAC).
Ms. Katahwa explains that it is essential to clean hands before the initial contact with the user environment to prevent the transmission of germs to our patients, residents and clients.
She adds a clarification that even if a staff member does not directly touch a user, once they enter the immediate space around the user—which may be touched by either the user or by the healthcare provider when providing care—hands must be cleaned.
“We all understand that it’s necessary to clean our hands when we’ve come into contact with bodily fluids, like blood or urine,” says Ms. Katahwa. “But by neglecting to perform hand hygiene before entering a user’s space, we risk harming the very people we are striving to protect.”
According to Ms. Katahwa, some confusion lies around the use of gloves. She explains that gloves do not replace hand hygiene or prevent the spread of infection once they are pulled onto hands that have not been cleaned.
“The IPAC team will continue to spread the word about the potentially devastating effects of not cleaning our hands at the right time,” says Ms. Katahwa, “but we cannot do it alone. We urge staff to politely remind each other to observe proper hand hygiene, and work together for the safety of all.”