Hand hygiene is one of the most important ways to reduce health care-associated infections.
Cleaning your hands can prevent the spread of germs, including those that are resistant to antibiotics and are becoming difficult, if not impossible, to treat.
Simply put, clean hands save lives.
OSF HealthCare St. Joseph Medical Center has created hand hygiene messages and materials to visually remind staff, patients, volunteers and visitors to practice correct hand hygiene procedures. Washing your hands often will help protect you and others from germs. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
While walking through our halls, you will notice our hand hygiene logo attached to each gel dispenser and on all mirrors near sinks throughout the medical center. A bright blue speech bubble with the message “Clean hands save lives” is attached adjacent to each gel dispenser. Additional gel dispensers with alcohol-based hand sanitizer have been installed throughout the medical center’s hallways, patient rooms, and public areas.
Patient rooms are equipped with mirrored signs with the hand hygiene logo to catch people’s attention as they move about the patient’s room. Staff also receives regular education and training to continue learning appropriate infection prevention and control practices.
Patients are encouraged to advocate for themselves by asking visitors or their caregivers to use hand hygiene. Should the patient see a caregiver or guest enter their room without using the gel dispenser, they can simply remind them to use proper hand hygiene while at OSF St. Joseph.
These visual cues and educational materials act as a constant reminder for proper hand hygiene procedures and help create a culture in which best practices are the priority.
Know the Truth
Patients and visitors should wash their hands at these times:
After touching bed rails, bedside tables, remote controls or phone
Before and after touching your eyes, nose or mouth
Before and after eating
Before and after changing bandages
After blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing
After touching door knobs
After using the restroom
Health care providers should practice hand hygiene before and after every patient contact. Clean hands count in the patient zone. Health care providers may need to clean their hands as many as 100 times per 12-hour shift, according to the CDC. Know what it takes to keep patients safe. Also, wearing gloves is not a substitute for hand hygiene. Always clean your hand after removing gloves.
According to the CDC, the following is the most effective way to wash your hands:
- Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap, and apply soap.
- Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Be sure to lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
- Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Need a timer? Hum the "Happy Birthday" song from beginning to end twice.
- Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.
- Dry your hands using a clean paper towel or air dry them.
Washing hands with soap and water is the best way to reduce the number of germs on them in most situations. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol. Hand sanitizers are not as effective when hands are visibly dirty or greasy. If using alcohol-based sanitizers, keep the following in mind, according to the CDC:
- Apply the product to the palm of one hand.
- Rub your hands together.
- Rub the product over all surfaces of your hands and fingers until your hands are dry – this should take about 20 seconds.
As a reminder, pay close attention to cleaning the fingertips, between the fingers and on the top of your thumbs as these areas often are missed when using alcohol-based hand sanitizers.
The staff at OSF St. Joseph takes pride in providing quality care to patients in a safe environment.
Hand hygiene is everyone’s responsibility...not only staff, but volunteers, patients and visitors alike.
Together, we can create a safer, healthier hospital and community.