Do you know about new hand hygiene guidelines?

Are you complying with new hand hygiene guidelines from the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)? The guidelines recommend using alcohol-based hand rubs along with soap and water and sterile gloves.1 Here are key recommendations:

  • When hands are visibly dirty or contaminated with blood or other body fluids, wash hands with an antimicrobial soap and water. If hands are not visibly soiled, use an alcohol-based hand rub for routine decontamination.
  • When using an alcohol-based hand rub, apply product to the palm of one hand and rub hands together, covering all surfaces of hands and fingers, until hands are dry.
  • The use of gloves does not eliminate the need for hand hygiene. Hand rubs should be used before and after each patient, just as gloves should be changed before and after each patient.
  • Health care personnel should avoid wearing artificial nails and keep natural nails less than ¼ inch long.

In addition, the CDC recommends that you implement a system to track your compliance with the new guidelines. Here are some performance indicators suggested by the CDC:

  • periodic monitoring of hand hygiene adherence;
  • providing feedback to staff about their compliance;
  • tracking the volume of alcohol-based hand rub used per 1,000 patient days;
  • assessing the adequacy of health care personnel hand hygiene when outbreaks of infection occur.

The best way to ensure compliance is to have a good working relationship with your facility’s infection control nurses, advises Pat Gabriel, RN, BSN, CEN, nurse manager of the ED at Overlook Hospital in Summit, NJ. Gabriel recommends the following:

  • asking the infection control nurse to give inservices during staff meetings;
  • collaborating with the infection control nurse in data collection for infections in the ED;
  • asking the infection control nurse to educate staff on equipment cleaning, especially reusable supplies;
  • asking for tips on how to increase compliance with the CDC guidelines for hand hygiene.

"Anything that allows for the sharing of information and ideas will help," says Gabriel.