Handwashing Assignment

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Hand hygiene is the primary measure in reducing infections. (World health Organization, 2009) Having had two recent placements on an elderly medicine and a surgical ward I quickly learned the importance of good hand hygiene. These placements required me to become competent in hand hygiene as on both wards I would come into contact with wound dressings and the prevention of infections spreading. Being included in daily wound dressings I was able to pick up the skill of hand washing fairly quickly. Hand washing is a crucial factor in the prevention of controlling infection. Therefore it is vital that it is carried out correctly, however it can quite often be overlooked and not put into practice when it should be. On both of these placements I had decided with my mentors that a main focus of my experience on the wards would be to understand the importance of infection control, and how hand washing effectively would improve the care I provided. Before my placements I had basic knowledge of hand washing however I didn’t feel that it was to the extent that I needed. This caused me to put time into learning from my mentors and also looking at guidelines and policies to gain a good understanding of infection control. I feel that from the many skills I have learnt from practice, hand washing would be the skill that I feel I have improved upon the most, therefore I feel that it would be appropriate to discuss how I have become competent in this particular skill. Hand washing essentially reduces the risk of microbial contamination. This then minimises the risk of infections being passed onto patients, clients, staff and visitors. (Department Of Health, 2006) In order for microbes to cause any infection, they must gain an entrance into the body. Different organisms have different ways of entering the body, one of the most likely routes is from the hands; therefore it is crucial that the hands are always washed effectively. (Health Protection Agency, 2007) Hands must be decontaminated immediately before each episode of care or treatment that the nurse provides for the patient or client. This allows for the minimal risk of any spread of infection from one patient to another. Hands should also be decontaminated after any care that is given as there will be a likely chance of the hands becoming contaminated or visually soiled. Microbes may be present in any body fluids, if the hands come into contact with any bodily fluids they may then be transferred from one patient to another. If the hands have become visibly soiled with dirt or any organic material, they should always be thoroughly washed with liquid soap and tepid water. The hand wash solution must come into contact with every surface of the hand. The hands must be vigorously rubbed together for at least fifteen seconds in order for it to be effective. Some areas of the hands can often be missed; therefore special attention should always be paid to the tips of the fingers, the thumbs and the area between the fingers. (National Institute for Clinical Excellence, 2003) The wrists are also often missed when decontaminating the hands, this can be dealt with by ensuring that each wrist is washed by rubbing in circles with the opposite hand and then dried thoroughly with a dry paper towel. (Health Protection Agency, 2007) The World Health Organization (2006) suggests that there are five key times where hand decontamination is crucial. These five moments are, before and after patient contact, before any aseptic technique, after any exposure to bodily fluids and after coming into contact with a patient’s surroundings. Washing hands at these specific times will prevent any infection being spread from one patient to another. Washing hands before an aseptic procedure is vital. If there were a wound dressing being performed hands would need to be washed as a precaution to reduce the risk of any microbes entering the wound. Decontaminating the hands will also promote healing of the wound. If...
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