Cleanliness Champions

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Hand Decontamination

With the outbreak of antibiotic resilient infections, infection control is becoming a major concern for health groups all over the world (WHO, 2011). The risk of infection can be reduced by using three types of hand washing known as social, hygienic and surgical methods (HAI, 2011).

Social hand washing is a useful method for removing dirt and transient micro-organisms. Using soap or an alcohol-based gel if hands are not soiled, vigorously clean your hands using the eight stages of hand-washing. This can stop transmission of the transient micro-organisms when in direct contact with patients (NHS, 2009). Alcohol-based hand rubs or gels should not be used alone when infection is present as this alone will not kill the spores for infection such as clostridium difficile. After washing hands must be dried properly as failure to do this can increase the transfer of bacteria (Nottingham University Hospitals, 2011).

Hygienic hygiene not only removes transient microorganisms but also reduces resident microorganisms. This is used when preparing to work in a sterile environment, during an outbreak situation or following contact with bodily fluids. Use an antiseptic hand cleanser when washing and vigorously follow the eight steps of hand-washing. After drying properly then apply an alcohol-based hand rub and repeat the eight stages (NHS, 2011).

Surgical scrubbing is a longer and more thorough antiseptic wash of both the hands and forearms. Before a surgical procedure this method is designed to remove as many of the micro-organisms as possible. It involves systematic washing and scrubbing of the hands and forearms using the most effective antibacterial cleansing agent available. Sterile gown and glove procedures are performed following the surgical scrub (NHS, 2010).

Effective hand washing can break the chain of infection which is known as: the infectious agent, reservoir, portal of exit, mode of transmission, portal of entry and...
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