The Importance of Hand Washing and Health
Galen College of Nursing
The Importance of Hand Washing and Health
Something as simple as washing your hands can help prevent the infections of wounds, food poisoning, and the spread of deadly viruses such as the flu. According to the CDC website, it takes 20 seconds to effectively wash your hands. This is not only for your benefit, but for the benefit of others.
First let us start with wound infections. Whether you are taking care of a minor cut at home, or dealing with a major surgical wound in the clinical setting, hand washing is critical in preventing infection. Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is more common than most people think. According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (2013) Workplace Safety & Health Topics. MRSA and the Workplace: Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus), also known as staph, is a type of bacteria that most healthy people carry on their skin, or in their nose. The MRSA refers to the staph infection that is resistant certain antibiotics, and makes wound infections harder to heal. Also according to (Boyce et al., 2009) WHO Guidelines on Hand Hygiene in Health Care. First Global Patient Safety Challenge Clean Care Is Safer Care (Section I, CH 5): The hands of some healthcare workers become persistently colonized by pathogenic flora such as S. aureus, Gram-negative bacilli, or yeast. These are referred to as transient flora (transient microbiota), which colonizes the superficial layers of the skin, and is amendable to removal by routine hand hygiene. They are often acquired by direct contact with patients or contaminated environmental surfaces adjacent to the patient and are the organisms most frequently associated with health care acquired infections. So how easy is it to transfer harmful bacteria to a wound? It is very easy. Staph and MRSA are transmitted through skin-to-skin contact, or contaminated surfaces. According the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2013) Workplace Safety & Health Topics. MRSA and the Workplace: MRSA or minor staph infections can occur anywhere, and these factors the CDC refers to as the 5 C’s: “Crowding, frequent skin-to-skin contact, compromised skin, contaminated items and surfaces, and lack of cleanliness. Locations where the 5C’s are common include schools, dormitories, military barracks, households, correctional facilities’, and daycare centers.” Remember, if you have a cut on your skin, and there is the presence of staph or MRSA already there, your number one prevention to not infect the wound on your own skin would be to wash your hands, or the area surrounding the wound. So you see, not only should you wash your hands in order not to infect the wounds of others, but also your own.
Not only is hand washing important when caring for wounds, but also when dealing food. The U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA) website is a great resource for looking at the effectiveness of hand washing, and food. According to FDA (2013) Retail Food Protection: Employee Health and Personal Hygiene Handbook, “Over 40 different kinds of bacteria, viruses, parasites, and molds that occur in food and can cause foodborne illness. A foodborne illness is commonly referred to as food poisoning or “stomach flu”. The FDA refers to the Big 5 as: Norovirus, Salmonella, Escherichia Coli (E. coli), Shigella, and Hepatitis A. There is all kinds of bacteria and germs in the kitchen. Not just the kitchen of restaurants, but your kitchen at home as well. When handling raw meat for example you want to ensure that you wash your hands before and after contact. The raw meat can carry all kinds of bacteria that can lead to food poisoning, such as Salmonella or E. coli. Not only is it important to wash your hands After handling food but also food related surfaces such as the cutting board used to prepare the raw meat. By washing your hands after handling the raw meat, and surfaces that were in...
References: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2013) Workplace Safety & Health Topics. MRSA and the Workplace Retrieved from
Boyce, J., Chartier, Y., Chariati, M., Cookson, B., Damani, N., Dharan, S., . . . Neelam-Dhingra, N., (2009) WHO Guidelines on Hand Hygiene in Health Care. First Global Patient Safety Challenge Clean Care Is Safer Care (Section I, CH 5) Retrieved from
U.S Food and Drug Administration (2013) Retail Food Protection: Employee Health and Personal Hygiene Handbook Retrieved from
WebMD (2012) Cold, Flu, Cough Health Center: Prevent Colds with Hand Washing Retrieved from
Mayo Clinic (2011) Hand-washing: Do’s and don’ts Retrieved from
Please join StudyMode to read the full document