Maintain hand hygiene by washing hands before and after client contact and/or after any activity likely to cause contamination
Follow handwashing procedures
Cover cuts and abrasions with water-proof dressings and change as necessary
A good reference document is available from the Australian Government Department of Health and Aging called Infection Control Guidelines. You may have already had a look at it. http://www.health.gov.au/internet/wcms/publishing.nsf/content/icg-guidelines-index.htm Go to section 12, Handwashing and personal hygiene.
One of the important ways of infection control we have discovered in the last century or so is also one of the simplest - hand washing. And I don't just mean a quick splash under the tap. The next step is drying them carefully.
Try this exercise. (If you have kids, they might like to do this with you). Get a big spoonful of Vegemite, non-toxic paint or something of a similar consistency, and rub it all over your hands so that all the skin is covered. Now wash it off. You'll notice the last places that the Vegemite clings to - these are the areas you will have to pay most attention to in your hand washing at work.
Hand washing is the single most important procedure for preventing transmission of infection.
It is essential that you wash your hands after touching blood, body substances and contaminated items, whether or not gloves are worn.
You must also wash your hands:
Hands must be washed before putting on gloves and after removing them. The wearing of gloves is ineffective without the inclusion of thorough handwashing.
Handwashing should be carried out at designated handwashing basins only. Preferably these basins should have no touch taps (operated by sensor, foot elbow), liquid soap and disposable or single use paper towelling. Handwashing basins should not be used for any other purpose.
Here is an example of a hand washing technique. This is available as a poster format and some surgeries place this near the hand washing basins.
Repeat procedure for 10 seconds
Rinse hands and dry carefully with disposable paper towel.
Careful drying is as important as careful washing in preventing cross infection.
Some important points about hand washing and hand care:
We have already stated that handwashing is the single most important procedure for preventing the transmission of disease. Understanding the importance of handwashing is probably one of the easiest concepts to grasp, although sometimes we tend to underestimate its significance and that is what makes it so important.
You may be saying to yourself, “I know how to wash my hands and I know how important it is”. However, to ensure no step is missed, you should click here and follow the steps in the diagram (.doc 165 KB).
Remember that this is not a surgical hand washing technique. The surgical handwashing technique is used for any invasive surgical procedure that is to be carried out.
All cuts, sores and abrasions must be covered (waterproof dressing is preferable), and the covering will need to be changed between each patient and frequently each day. There is a large range of dressing available these days such as non latex bandaids, flexible and waterproof dressings and these should be readily available in the first aid kit.