HAI Threats & Solutions > Hand Hygiene

Hand Hygiene

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Every day, thousands of people acquire infections while receiving healthcare. One of the first steps in avoiding the transmission of pathogens and preventing healthcare-associated infections is proper hand washing and hand sanitization procedures in your facility.

It has long been recognized that proper hand hygiene reduces the transmission of pathogenic microorganisms. Unfortunately,overall compliance with hand hygiene guidelines by healthcare workers continues to be suboptimal.

Factors that contribute to poor compliance include:

  • lack of knowledge
  • understaffing and overcrowded patient load
  • poor access to hand washing or sanitization facilities
  • irritant contact dermatitis of clinicians’ hands
  • lack of organizational commitment to appropriate hand hygiene

Infection prevention is everyone’s responsibility!

When it comes to hand hygiene, not only can healthcare workers make a difference, but patients can also help impede transmission of infection by practicing proper hand hygiene and encouraging visitors to do the same. Patients, however, often need to be educated about the importance of clean hands and how to clean their hands, in order to be part of the solution. Patient education is becoming another responsibility of healthcare facilities as they seek every way possible to eliminate HAI outbreaks.

HandWashingIllustration HandSanitizerIllustration
How to Hand Wash How to Sanitize Hands
Washing with soap and water helps to physically remove germs and to rinse them down the drain. Washing is required when hands are visibly soiled or have bodily fluid contamination. Sanitization reduces the amount of pathogens present on hands through the use of alcohol-based hand rubs in the form of gels, rinses and foams. When used properly, alcohol-based hand rubs are a very effective way to decontaminate hands. However, if hands are visibly soiled, hand washing is required.1

Research & Reports

CDC Ounce of Prevention Campaign The campaign's goal is to provide resources about hand washing, cleaning and disinfection, and other easy–to–follow steps in an effort to develop and maintain successful hand hygiene and cleaning practices, and is aimed at educating a broad consumer and professional audience.

CDC Hand Hygiene Guidelines

CDC Guideline for Hand Hygiene in Health-Care Settings


Foot Notes:
Sources Used in Preparation of this Webpage:
  • Or if any spore-forming bacteria is present (such as Clostridium difficile).
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.