Hand hygiene

Key to preventing infection for health care workers

The power to save lives is in your hands. An infection acquired during a patient’s visit can cost more than just dollars. Sometimes it costs lives.

Hospital-acquired urinary tract infections, pneumonia and other infections cause about 48,000 deaths nationally each year, researchers reported on WebMD. In addition, infections cost hospitals more than $35,000 per case.

The solution may be easier than you think. Proper hand cleansing can reduce the number of infections acquired after patients enter the hospital by up to 70 percent, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Hand-cleansing saves lives,” said Lewis Perkins, R.N., MSN, vice president of patient care services and chief nursing officer, Norton Hospital. “By cleansing our hands at the right times and in the right way, we can provide safe, quality care for our patients.”

Caregivers, family members, visitors and anyone else who comes in contact with patients should cleanse their hands with either hand sanitizer or soap and water.

Cleansing with hand sanitizer is appropriate if hands are not visibly soiled:

  • Use the entire amount dispensed. Dispensers automatically give the correct amount needed for hand cleansing.
  • Rub your hands together vigorously, making sure the alcohol sanitizing gel contacts all surfaces of your hands, including tips of the fingers and spaces between fingers and thumbs.
  • Continue rubbing until the sanitizer is dry.

If hands are visibly soiled, wash with soap and water:

  • First wet your hands with warm running water.
  • Using liquid soap, rub your hands together vigorously, making sure you get the tips and the spaces in between your fingers and your thumb. This process should take about as long as singing the “Happy Birthday” song twice.
  • Dry with a paper towel.

For more information or to find a physician, call (502) 629-1234 or visit our Find a Doc.


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