3.2(a): Demonstrate the recommended method for hand washing and describe what products should be used

Course: NVQ Level 4 Diploma In Health And Social Care (RFQ)

Unit 8: Health and safety in health and social care settings

LO3: Be able to work safely in health and social care settings

Assessment: Comply with current guidelines for: 

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3.2(a): Hand hygiene

The general rule for hand hygiene is to clean hands with soap and water whenever they are visibly dirty, or after coming into contact with body fluids such as blood, saliva, vomit, or faeces.

In addition, health care workers should clean their hands before putting on gloves and after taking them off, before and after caring for a patient, and anytime their hands are not visibly soiled. Alcohol-based hand sanitisers can also be used when soap and water are not available.

Although health care workers should generally follow the directions on hand hygiene products, they should check with their hospital to determine which product(s) are recommended for infection prevention.

Hand Hygiene Compliance Among US Health Care Personnel (August 2010) The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety; Discusses findings of recent surveys regarding hand hygiene compliance among US health care personnel.

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Hand washing is considered to be one of the most effective ways to reduce the transmission of harmful microorganisms that cause nosocomial (hospital-acquired) infections. Hand hygiene guidelines are becoming more detailed and extensive with each revision. The prevailing strategy for preventing the goal of increasing hand hygiene compliance. These recent guidelines are based on the traditional “5 moments for hand hygiene” (before touching a patient, before clean and aseptic tasks, when visibly soiled, after body fluid exposure risk, after touching a patient’s surroundings), as well as more recently recommended additional times such as:

  • after removing gloves;
  • after contact with a patient’s surroundings;
  • before and after eating and drinking; and
  • when moving from a contaminated area to a clean area.

Documentation of hand hygiene compliance is important, as it can serve as an indicator of quality improvement initiatives. It is also essential for monitoring the success of any multidisciplinary patient safety initiative or “bundle”.

Measurement of hand hygiene compliance is complicated by the lack of an objective measure. Although direct observation, video surveillance, electronic monitoring systems and other methods may be used to document performance at individual facilities, they are not practical for widespread use in all hospital units because of the labour-intensive nature of observation and data collection. Documented rates of compliance using these methods range from 30% to 87%.

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