Undercover germs: Gloves do not replace hand hygiene

Hand hygiene kiosk
Percy Hernandez raises a hand sanitizer in celebration of World Hand Hygiene Day.

Gloves can increase the risk of contamination and infection. How can that be? When they are relied upon in the place of proper hand-hygiene practices, germs can spread, with potentially dangerous consequences. For this reason, “gloves do not replace hand hygiene” was the Infection Prevention and Control team’s focus on World Hand Hygiene Day this past May. Staff took part in interactive instruction on hand hygiene with surveys, prizes and giveaways. Members of the public were also encouraged to take part.

“To effectively protect ourselves, our users and those around us from potentially harmful bacteria and germs, healthcare professionals must clean their hands properly with soap and water or with an alcohol-based sanitizer before donning gloves and immediately after removing them,” says Nursing Consultant Garcia Kasoki Katahwa.

According to the World Health Organization, a healthcare professional should wear gloves when it can be reasonably anticipated that contact with blood or other body fluids, mucous membranes, non-intact skin or potentially infectious material will occur.

A true team effort to prevent the spread of infection

With hand hygiene compliance rates on the rise across CIUSSS West-Central Montreal, what’s clear is that more staff are committed to cleaning their hands often and properly. “Bacteria reproduces at a rapid rate, doubling every 4 to 20 minutes, so every effort made to keep microbes at bay keeps staff, users and visitors safer,” adds Ms. Katahwa. “That why dispelling the misconception that gloves replace hand hygiene is a big step toward compliance rate improvements across the network.”

To learn more, complete the hand hygiene training module.