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The importance of washing your hands

Hand hygiene is a procedure known worldwide as the elimination of microorganisms through the use of soap and water, or hand sanitizer. This action has been used to counteract Health Care Associated Infections (HAI). Over the years, it has become clear that it is not just a procedure, it is a patient safety measure. Hands are the main germ transmission route during health care and the most important measure to avoid harmful germ transmission is to avoid Health Care Associated Infections (HAI).

October 15 is the date on which the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the World Hand Hygiene Day, aiming for this practice to become a habit in daily routines, whose main objective is to avoid spreading a number of diseases that mainly attack the digestive system, but that compromise other parts of the organism.

In order for everyone to carry out this procedure, hand hygiene became a safety indicator in health systems. It is integrated into essential actions for patient safety and international goal #5: reduction of infections associated with healthcare. As such, healthcare institutes are committed to fully carrying out the procedure.

At the Shriners Hospital, hand hygiene has become the main tool to prevent infections. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of hand sanitizer dispensers has increased by 30%, which represents an increase in hand washing. You have sufficient material resources to carry out this practice and protect your patients against cross-infections. Furthermore, from the beginning of the pandemic, hand hygiene has been promoted to patients and employees within the hospital starting at screening, since everyone needs to complete the procedure to enter the hospital and we recommend the use of hand sanitizer at all times.

Even so, they continuously train their colleagues, twice a year, on how to perform hand hygiene and the advantages of performing the procedure. Emphasis is placed on the 5 moments, a strategy implemented by the WHO to avoid cross contamination and guarantee patient safety.

Shriners Hospital for Children Mexico shares 5 relevant points for hand washing:

  1. Washing your hands with water alone is not enough.
  2. Washing your hands with soap can avoid diseases that have killed millions of children every year.
  3. Critical times for handwashing with soap are after using the bathroom, or cleaning a child, and before handling food.
  4. Handwashing with soap is the most cost-effective health intervention.
  5. Children can be agents of change, being a more enthusiastic part of society.