Infection prevention and control: Hand hygiene
Healthcare associated infections (HAIs) are the most common complication for patients in health care settings. They are caused by infectious microorganisms and can be prevented using standardised infection control procedures adhered to by all healthcare workers. HAIs pose an unnecessary risk to patients, causing pain and suffering, prolonged hospital stays, and increased health care costs. Reducing the spread of infection by prevention and control practices is essential for effective clinical care.
Numerous studies point to HAIs being associated with microorganism transmission via intact skin. Many microorganisms are present as part of a person’s flora, present long term under the superficial cells of the dermis. However, many also form part of transient flora and are transmitted from the skin surface.
These include bacteria, viruses, and fungi and are acquired via any direct contact - with patients, visitors, colleagues, or any other contaminated environment, such as curtains, bed linen, tables, and benches.
Not surprisingly, these microorganisms are easily transmitted, and the hands of a healthcare worker are one common source of transmission.
Nationally and globally there is a persistent theme pressed by health advisors, governments (for Australia, via the Australian Commission on Quality and Safety in Healthcare and Hand Hygiene Australia), and the World Health Organisation. That is - that if healthcare workers were to adhere to the basic principles of hand hygiene, HAIs would be significantly reduced.
The National Safety and Quality Health Service (NSQHS) Standards incorporate hand hygiene, Hand Hygiene Australia and the NHMRC Infection control guidelines all encourage regular updates and reinforcement of hand hygiene messages, and auditing of hand hygiene is an element of compliance.
This module focuses squarely on hand hygiene. It is a reminder to every healthcare worker of the importance of diligent hand hygiene.
At the end of this module participants will be able to:
- Know the three main forms of transmission of healthcare associated infections.
- Understand standard precautions as they relate to hand hygiene.
- Identify the 5 moments of hand hygiene.
- Know how to perform a routine hand rub and hand wash.
- Identify common barriers to hand hygiene.
- Be able to support improvement in hand hygiene.