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Hand Hygiene FAQ

What is ‘hand hygiene’?
Hand hygiene refers to the removal of microorganisms (‘germs’) from hands through handwashing with soap and water or the use of an alcohol-based hand rub (see Hand Hygiene Information Sheet for more information)

What are health care-associated infections?
Sometimes when patients are admitted to the hospital, they can get infections. These are called health care-associated infections.

How will the public reporting of hand hygiene compliance affect compliance among health care professionals?
There are many factors that will improve hand hygiene compliance. Mandatory public reporting is one element. The increasing recent attention on the issue as well as the provincial government’s multifaceted hand hygiene program called Just Clean Your Hands are important to ensuring effective hand hygiene at the right times.

Why is hand hygiene so important?
Hand hygiene is an important practice for health care providers and has a significant impact on reducing the spread of infections in hospitals. Hand hygiene is a different way of thinking about safety and patient care and involves everyone in the hospital, including patients and health care providers.

Effective hand hygiene practices in hospitals play a key role in improving patient and provider safety, and in preventing the spread of health care-associated infections.

What St. Francis Memorial Hospital is doing to support effective hand hygiene:

  • Following the “Just Clean Your Hands” program for excellence in hand hygiene
  • Alcohol-based hand rub dispensers located throughout the hospital including at all points of care
  • Signage to promote effective hand hygiene practices
  • Hand hygiene audits
  • Information brochures on hand hygiene for patients and families
  • New precaution signage and corresponding brochures
  • Installation of waterless surgical scrub stations in the Emergency Unit

What can patients do to help improve their own safety?
Hand hygiene involves everyone in the hospital, including patients. Hand cleaning is one of the best ways you and your health care team can prevent the spread of many infections. Patients and their visitors should also practice good hand hygiene before and after entering patient rooms. (see Hand Hygiene Information Sheet for more information)

More patient-specific information is available at www.ontario.ca/patientsafety and www.oha.com/patientsafetytips.