Maintaining good hygiene levels is important for staying healthy and avoiding falling ill. Many illnesses can be contracted by touching certain surfaces, passing on bacteria or viruses that’s been left on it.

Here’s why hand hygiene is crucial to keep on top of, especially within health care where there could be an increased risk to patients and staff alike.


What is hand hygiene?

Hand hygiene, or hand washing, is the practice of regularly washing your hands to remove germs which could lead to health complications. You are meant to thoroughly wash your hands using warm water and soap for 20 seconds, ensuring you clean every part of your hands.

This is one of the key steps behind infection control and has played a key role in reducing infections within the coronavirus pandemic. An increased awareness of the need for thorough hand washing in order to keep people safe led to multiple songs being used to gauge how long to wash your hands for.


The stats behind hand hygiene

While hand washing is crucial in preventing infections, both global and UK-based stats show how many of us take this for granted.

Only three in five people have access to basic hand washing facilities worldwide, showing how many don’t have what they need to keep themselves safe.

Despite having the necessary facilities, many people in the UK still don’t wash their hands after going to the bathroom, which is one of the places where infections can easily spread. Only 61% of office workers in UK said they washed their hands after using the toilet – a disappointingly low number.

The pandemic has helped to raise this number, but it shouldn’t take a global health crisis in order for people to simply wash their hands.


When should you practice hand hygiene in a medical setting?

As there are many people who’s health is compromised within hospitals and other health care settings, hand washing should be done regularly and after certain interactions. These include:

– Before touching a patient

– Before clean/aseptic procedures

– After body fluid exposure risks

– After touching a patient

– After touching patient surroundings 

There are additional preventative measures which medical settings will employ to further reduce the risk of infection. Health care workers may use disposable gloves when carrying out certain tasks to prevent the transmission of viruses and bacteria.

Keeping surfaces clean is also a high priority, with multi-purpose cleaners helping to further prevent the spread of bacteria. Cleaning chairs between out-patient appointments and areas of high activity like doors also help keep health care settings sanitary.

Although these measures are helpful, nothing is better than simply washing your hands regularly to stop these issues at the source. Follow the advice on proper hand washing technique and keep those around your safe, especially in medical settings.