A good day for clean hands
by Larry Bowers
May 05, 2010 | 584 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
What an appropriate day for today’s national and international observance.It’s a day following elections across the country, perhaps this is the right day for “Clean Your Hands Day.”Now ... back to the seriousness of this special day.Clean hands save lives. Clean Your Hands Day is part of a major global effort led by the World Health Organization (WHO), mostly to urge health care workers to improve hand hygiene and thus stop the spread of life-threatening, health care-associated infection.

Still, good hand-washing techniques are important for all of us.I recently had major lung surgery and the focus of my surgeon was to get me out of the hospital and home as soon as possible. “The real danger in your surgery is strep and pneumonia, and there’s a likelihood you could get one or the other in the hospital,” he said.The physician was not criticizing the treatment or service of the hospital. He was only emphasizing the dangers of the environment and the increased possibility of germs.

This initiative is part of WHO’s safety challenge, the “Clean Care is Safer Care” program aimed at reducing Hospital-acquired Infection (HAI). The program was launched in 2005.The clear and central feature of Clean Care is Safer Care has been to target the importance of clean hands in health care. The program has galvanized action at many levels.Ministers of Health from 121 countries having pledged commitment to reducing HAI and support the work of WHO. Thirty-eight nations have started hand hygiene campaigns during this time.Clean Your Hands was deemed a natural next phase of the Clean Care is Safer Care program, moving the call to the point of patient care.

The central core of the effort is that all health-care workers should clean their hands at the right time and in the right way.Policies have been established from a base of existing research and evidence from rigorous testing as well as working closely with a range of experts in the field.These tools aim to help the translation into practice of a multimodal strategy for improving and sustaining hand hygiene ... not only in health care, but for everyone.For the general public, there are do’s and don’ts in hand washing.First you need to realize hand washing is an easy way to prevent infection. Understand when to wash your hands, how to properly use a hand sanitizer and how to get your children into the habit.Frequent hand washing is one of the best ways to avoid getting sick and spreading illness. Hand washing requires only soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer — a cleanser that doesn't require water.

As you touch people, surfaces and objects throughout the day, you accumulate germs on your hands. In turn, you can infect yourself with these germs by touching your eyes, nose or mouth.You should ask yourself how many times you have washed your hands today.Specific times to wash your hands include: Before eating or touching food, after using the bathroom, after blowing your nose or coughing, after touching pets or other animals, after being outside and before and after visiting a sick relative or friend.Although it's impossible to keep your hands germ-free, washing your hands frequently can help limit the transfer of bacteria, viruses and other microbes. It can even save your life.