Hand Hygiene Handwashing and Clean Hands Saves Lives


Debunking the Not-so Common Knowledge of Hand Hygiene

It is easy for anyone to admit they wash their hands regularly and that it is a good habit to keep so sometimes it’s easy to overlook the fact that not everyone is knowledgeable in the nuisance details surrounding hand hygiene. Raising the awareness of hand hygiene depends on us sharing our knowledge with one another and we want to share with you that although some information may seem to be common knowledge to us, it is not so with everyone.

We should never be afraid of educating or sharing information regarding the facts on hand hygiene; however, we should do it in a matter that doesn’t discourage others. Be cognizant that encouraging proper behavior is better than any reprimanding.

We Can Easily Tell When Someone Cleaned His or Her Hands

Not true. We can usually tell if a person washed their hands by listening to the sink running or noticing if the hands are still moist, but the important question is not whether or not the person washed their hands. The key question we need to consider is whether or not the person washed their hands properly. If proper hand washing technique was followed, was the right product used for the scenario? Are soap and water being used when alcohol hand rub is not sufficient?

We All Know When We Need To Clean Our Hands

This is not necessarily the case. Most of us know we should wash our hands before we eat and after we use the restroom, but what about the numerous other scenarios such as when healthcare workers come into physical contact with patients? There is nothing wrong with giving someone a gentle reminder of performing hand hygiene when it is forgotten. More often than not, people will be appreciative of this.

People Who Don’t Adhere to Proper Hand Hygiene Don’t Care or Are Lazy

This isn’t really so. Especially within a healthcare setting, most workers try their best to do the right thing and want their patients to be safe. The key to hand hygiene is making the when and how of cleaning the hands a regular part of an individual’s routine. For some individuals, they just don’t know and just need the proper education.

If Everyone Had Excellent Hand Hygiene, Infections Would Be Eradicated

Although infections wouldn’t be eliminated, the number of infections would be reduced if everyone had excellent hand hygiene. According to reports by the CDC and WHO, bad hand hygiene is the number one contributing factor for the spread of infections. Making sure everyone practiced good hand hygiene won’t get rid of diseases, but it will keep our society healthier by helping contain infections that do occur.

Hand Hygiene Resource:
  • Center for Disease Control and Prevention: Guideline for hand hygiene in health-care settings. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report 51:1-45, Oct. 25, 2002.
  • WHO Guidelines on Hand Hygiene in Health Care. World Health Organization, 2006.