The hands are the most used body organ and are exposed to pathogens at a higher level than any other part of our body. For humans to maintain a state of good health, we have to reduce the transmission to these pathogens. One proven method to interrupt the transmission is by maintaining hand hygiene. The objective of this integrative review was to examine the relationship between hand washing and incidence of health care associated infections (HCAIs) in healthcare settings and provide evidence based recommendations for the future directions for health care providers to prevent infections.
Importance of maintaining hand hygiene
Evidence to support the importance of hand hygiene in infection prevention dates back to the early 1800’s with Ignaz Semmelweis. The significance of limiting the spread of infections has been emphasized from the days of Florence Nightingale. HCAIs acquired during hospital stays might affect up to 10% of patients in the USA. The World health Organization (WHO) published national guidelines for hand hygiene in healthcare to increase patient safety and limit the spread/exposure to organisms. Medical personnel frequently skip hand washing between patients either because they were not near a sink or they just didn’t have the time. Compliance for hand hygiene by all healthcare workers on average is 50%.
I reviewed five journals on hand washing. Makie et al. (2013) identifies 4 primary objectives to prevent infection that all need to be used in parallel: (1) hand washing; (2) protective barriers (3) decontamination of the environment, items and equipment used for patients; and (4) antibiotic surveillance. One used with the other three will put your patient at risk for exposure. Despite an extensive amount of research/data and evidence supporting these interventions, healthcare workers’ translation into their daily practice is lacking. The writer promotes compliance and consistency of these
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