How to achieve effective hand hygiene

01 March 2012
7 mins read
Volume 3 · Issue 2


The importance of good hand hygiene cannot be overemphasized in relation to reducing disease transmission. However, it is important to bear in mind that unless hand washing is done thoroughly then bacteria and other pathogens could be spread to the environment almost as easily as if there has been no attention to method. Contamination of clean hands, post washing, is of course inevitable if surfaces/patients/other environmental factors are not themselves clean. So it is important to wash hands frequently in order to keep potential spread of disease to a manageable minimum. In terms of handling and treating patients in a clinical setting, the practice of effective hand washing pre- and post-procedure will help to maintain a healthy environment for staff as well as patients.

The environment has an abundance of microscopic life and for most of the time these microbes cause little or no damage. In fact many such microrganisms are beneficial, such as resident skin microflo-ra (predominantly staphylococcal bacteria). These protect against invasion by pathogens (Gregory, 2005) including viruses, microscopic parasites, fungi and bacteria. In fact, some commensal microflora may be pathogenic to immune-compromised patients. All pathogens are a significant risk to patients’ health and one of the main causes of iatro-genic infections is lack of hand hygiene.

Effective hand hygiene is an essential component in the reduction of transmission of potentially pathogenic bacteria from person to person. There are a wealth of data linking it to, among other things, improvement in survival rate post surgery, reduction in perinatal mortality, and better attendance figures in schools (DaRo hand inspection systems, 2011). Unfortunately, good hygiene practice by one person can be counteracted because of poor practice by another. So, for example, cleaning hands after visiting a public toilet, then touching a contaminated exit door, negates good practice. In fact it may leave the ‘clean’ person in ignorance of the possible transfer risk, by giving them the false assumption that their hands are sufficiently clean.

Register now to continue reading

Thank you for visiting The Veterinary Nurse and reading some of our peer-reviewed content for veterinary professionals. To continue reading this article, please register today.