We know that the simplest actions can sometimes make the biggest difference in the well-being of our patients and their families. It doesn't get simpler than practicing appropriate hand hygiene before and after every patient interaction. We are committed to keeping patients safe by keeping our hands clean. Hand hygiene, or hand washing, is the most important way we can prevent infection. Good hand hygiene can be accomplished by using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, such as Purell®, or soap and water.
We require our staff to clean their hands both before and after taking care of a patient. We also remind our patients and visitors to clean their hands often to help prevent the spread of infection. Clean hands protect everyone – patients, visitors, and staff.
Hand hygiene compliance is also a National Patient Safety Goal. At BWH, surveillance of hand hygiene compliance is conducted on a weekly basis. We are encouraging our colleagues to start the dialogue on hand hygiene, providing positive reinforcement as well as respectful reminders.
What are we doing to improve hand hygiene?
Care providers should practice hand hygiene at key points during patient care to disrupt the transmission of microorganisms to patients, including:
before and after patient contact
after contact with blood, body fluids, or contaminated surfaces (even if gloves are worn)
before invasive procedures
after removing gloves
Wearing gloves is not enough to prevent the transmission of pathogens in health care settings. Remember, our patients’ health is in our hands. To learn more about hand hygiene, please visit BWH's Hand Hygiene Initiative.