IP&You_WashHandsOften_HCWsite_revHand hygiene (washing with soap and water or using hand sanitizer) is the most important way to prevent the spread of infections. Germs on healthcare workers’ hands can transmit dangerous organisms to patients. For detailed information on how to clean your hands, click here.

Scary but true: It has been estimated that fewer than half of healthcare workers clean their hands as often as they are supposed to. So protect your patients and clean your hands!

The chart below from the World Health Organization shows the Five Moments for Hand Hygiene. By cleaning hands at these key times, you have the best chance of preventing the spread of germs to patients.

Before clean/aseptic procedureClean your hands immediately before performing a clean/aseptic procedure.To protect the patient from infection due to pathogens carried on your hands and from his own (endogenous) flora.
After body fluid exposure risk Clean your hands immediately after an exposure risk to body fluids, including after oral care, after skin lesion care, and after glove removal.To protect yourself and the environment from pathogens carried on your hands.
Before touching a patientClean your hands as you enter the patient zone, before touching the patient.To protect the patient from pathogens carried on your hands.
After touching a patientClean your hands after activities that involve touching a patient, such as physical assessment and bathing.To protect yourself, the environment, and subsequent patients from pathogens carried on your hands.
After touching patient’s surroundingsClean your hands after touching any object or furniture in the patient’s immediate surroundings, when leaving the patient zone, even if the patient has not been touched.To protect yourself, the environment, and subsequent patients from pathogens carried on your hands.
NOTE: Adapted from Save Lives: Clean Your Hands, a global campaign to improve hand hygiene among HCWs, and a major component of the WHO’s Clean Care is Safer Care program and AJIC May 2012 Supplement


What you can do:
Clean your hands before and after providing patient care, and during all of the five moments of hand hygiene. Encourage patients and visitors to clean their hands too. They should clean their hands before they eat, after they use the rest room, and as they enter and exit their rooms.


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