From left: Shristy Pyakuryal and Ron Walls take the Brigham’s hand hygiene pledge.

We owe to it our patients, their families and ourselves to always practice hand hygiene, especially before and after every patient encounter.

Here are five things to know about hand hygiene:

  1. Organisms that cause hospital-acquired infections are most frequently spread from one patient to another patient on the hands of health care workers. Hand hygiene is the single-most effective way to prevent this.
  2. To practice effective hand hygiene, wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), apply soap, lather and scrub your hands for 20 seconds, rinse and dry. If you’re using hand sanitizer, such as Purell, apply the product to the palm of one hand and rub your hands together, including your fingers, until they’re dry.
  3. Purell is not drying to the skin; it is formulated with a combination of moisturizers designed to leave hands feeling soft.
  4. All staff must practice proper hand hygiene each time they enter and exit a patient room, regardless of whether staff plan to touch anything in the room. If your hands are full while entering or exiting a patient room, you must practice hand hygiene immediately after putting items down before contacting a patient or anything in the patient room.
  5. A critical part of practicing hand hygiene is our readiness to respectfully give and receive feedback to one another, supporting a culture of collaboration across our departments and disciplines. Whether you receive hand hygiene feedback from your supervisor, peer or another staff member, there is only one appropriate answer: “Thank you.”

Learn more about hand hygiene on PikeNotes.