Hand disinfection consists of rubbing the hands with a disinfectant, which is usually alcohol-based. Such disinfectant has been developed especially for use on the hands. In the course of disinfection, all pathogens present on the hands (for example, bacteria and viruses) are eradicated.
In hospitals or other healthcare institutions it is important to eradicate all pathogens on the hands that can lead to diseases. These pathogens originate from patients and from their immediate environment. The goal is to prevent transmission to other patients and staff. Soap and water cannot guarantee eradication. Thus, when caring for patients, soap and water are used only to wash dirty hands. What’s more, a skin care product has been added to hand disinfectants so they result in significantly less skin damage.
The active ingredient in common hand disinfectants is alcohol. As a rule, it takes 15 seconds to eradicate all relevant pathogens.
Washing with soap and water is completely adequate in our personal lives. They should always be washed when hands are visibly dirty, after using the toilet, before meals, before preparing food with raw ingredients (for example, salads), and after handling raw meat.
If you are caring for a family member at home, consult with your family doctor about when it would be advisable to disinfect your hands.
It is not always easy for patients and their family members to tell when hand hygiene is necessary. Work procedures in hospitals are often very complex; they can also be interrupted. Nonetheless, there are a few basic rules:
- Immediately after contact with their skin
- When staff leaves you to go to the next patient
- If you have catheters, an indwelling cannula, drains, or bandages, hands should always be disinfected before any action, which, in a sense, opens the system, for example,the injection of medication or changing bandages.
- Immediately after contact with fecal matter, blood or wound exudate.
Our staff have very fast and frequently hectic daily work routines. Especially in work with sick people are there situations that are unplanned for in which quick action is required. In addition we must often care for more patients than planned. That means that as a result there are significantly more situations in which hand hygiene is necessary. Under such conditions, it is difficult to perform hand hygiene in every required situation. Our staff are well aware of the importance of hand hygiene and are motivated to fulfill the requirements.