What is hand hygiene?
Hand hygiene is the action of cleaning hands. There are two ways to clean hands. Using an alcohol based hand rub which kills organisms in seconds or, when hands are visibly soiled, using soap and running water.
Why are hand hygiene rates being publicly reported?
The single most common way of transferring health care-associated infections (HAIs) in a health care setting is on the hands of health care providers. Health care providers move from patient to patient and room to room while providing care and working in the patient environment. This movement provides many opportunities for the transmission of organisms on hands that can cause infections. Monitoring hand hygiene practices is vital to improving rates and, in turn, reducing HAIs.
When should health care providers be cleaning their hands?
There are four essential moments for hand hygiene:
- Before initial patient or patient environment contact
- Before aseptic procedure*
- After bodily fluid exposure risk
- After patient or patient environment contact
*An aseptic procedure could include: a) touching/manipulating a body site that should be protected against infections (e.g., wound care including dressing change and wound assessment); b) manipulating an invasive device that could result in infection of a body area (e.g. priming intravenous infusion set, inserting spike into opening of IV bag, flushing line, adjusting intravenous site, administering medication through IV port, changing IV tubing)
Which moments of hand hygiene are being publicly reported?
The Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care (MOHLTC) will be reporting two of the moments : before initial contact with the patient/patient’s environment (moment 1) and after contact with the patient/patient’s environment (moment 4). The reason the Ministry is not reporting moments 2 and 3 (before aseptic procedures and after body fluid exposure risk) is because they occur much less commonly than moments 1 and 4 and because it is relatively difficult to observe enough of them to ensure a statistically valid sample size.
Please see Hand Hygiene Rates for more information.