Each year on May 5, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) call on healthcare facilities to promote hand hygiene and infection prevention awareness and action. Known as Save Lives: Clean Your Hands Day, the celebration targets healthcare-associated infections (HAIs), infection prevention, and the key role proper hand hygiene plays in reducing their spread.
This year’s Save Lives: Clean Your Hands Day theme is preventing sepsis in healthcare. Sepsis is the body's extreme response to an infection. It is life-threatening, and without timely treatment, can rapidly cause tissue damage, organ failure, and death1. It is estimated to affect more than 30 million patients worldwide each year2. As the basis for all infection prevention, hand hygiene plays a key role in the prevention of HAIs, which if left untreated, can trigger sepsis.
True or False?
1. Alcohol-based hand sanitizer is less effective and more drying to skin than using soap and water.
False: Compared to soap and water, alcohol-based hand sanitizers are better at reducing bacterial counts on hands and are effective against multidrug-resistant organisms (e.g., MRSA). Additionally, alcohol-based hand sanitizers cause less skin irritation than frequent use of soap and water.
2. Alcohol-based hand sanitizer does not kill C. difficile, but it is still the overall recommended method for hand hygiene practice.
True. Always use gloves when caring for patients with C. difficile. In addition, when there is an outbreak of C. difficile in your facility, wash your hands with soap and water after removing your gloves.
3. Some healthcare providers miss certain areas when cleaning their hands.
True. Using alcohol-based hand sanitizer becomes a habit and sometimes healthcare providers miss certain areas, such as the fingertips, thumbs and between fingers.
4. Using alcohol-based hand sanitizer can cause antibiotic resistance.
False. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers kill germs quick and in a different way than antibiotics. There is no chance for the germs to adapt or develop resistance.
5. The amount of product you use doesn’t matters, as long as you use it.
False. Use enough alcohol-based hand sanitizer to cover all surfaces of your hands. Rub your hands together until they are dry. Your hands should stay wet for around 20-30 seconds if you used the right amount.
6. Glove use is not a substitute for cleaning your hands. Dirty gloves can soil your hands.
True. Clean your hands after removing gloves to protect yourself and your patients from infection.
7. On average, healthcare providers perform hand hygiene less than half of the times they should.
True. When healthcare providers do not perform hand hygiene 100 percent of the times they should, they put themselves and their patients at risk for serious infections.
How did you do? Take this quiz with your staff, and take advantage of the following resources to remind staff and patients about the importance of Save Lives: Clean Your Hands Day:
- Register for the WHO Save Lives: Clean Your Hands Campaign here
- Download May 5 Educational tools (Posters, social media images, etc)
- Get your Hand Hygiene Self Assessment Framework
- Download a Hand Hygiene: When, Why and How Brochure
- Watch and share this year's WHO May 5 video
For more information on hand hygiene solutions for your healthcare facility, visit www.debmed.com.