Infection control and hand hygiene
Infection control is an integral component of quality improvement in health care, directed towards reducing the incidence of hospital acquired infections and improving health outcomes. Therefore it should also reduce:
- Patient/client suffering, inconvenience and possible risk to life.
- Patient/client financial charges, Hospital operating costs and the Nationwide cost of health care.
- Infectious risks to hospital staff in the workplace.
Read the Benalla Health Standard Precautions document and our ANTT Policy
The single most important measure in reducing the risk of cross-infection is effective hand hygiene by health care workers (HCWs) and ancillary staff.
- Hand hygiene is a term that applies to the process of hand washing, or hand decontamination
- Hand washing involves washing your hands with plain, i.e. non-antimicrobial soap and water (Endure 102)
- Hand decontamination (debug) involves washing you hands with antimicrobial soap (Endure 401) and water or alcohol/chlorhexidine hand rub (Avagard)
- Use of alcohol and chlorhexidine may potentially cause irritation of previously damaged skin (eg contact dermatitis)
- The nonclinical (vanity) hand basin inside the room is not appropriate for handwashing by HCWs
For hand hygiene to be effective, HCWs in clinical areas must:
- Not wear cardigans or jackets when attending to patients. Uniform sleeves and under garments (spencers) also must not extend below the elbow,
- Keep jewellery to a minimum - single plain banded rings e.g. wedding ring only. Wristwatches, bracelets and bangles are also not to be worn,
- Keep fingernails short and clean. Artificial nails and nail extensions must not be worn,
- Cover cuts and abrasions on the hand with a waterproof dressing.
We encourage staff to debug or wash their hands according to the five moments of hand hygiene set out by the world health organization these moments include;
- Before patient contact
- Before a procedure
- After a procedure or body fluid exposure risk – including after glove use
- After patient contact
- After contact with patient surroundings
Washing with soap and water is still needed, when you feel it is appropriate to you or when your hands are visibly soiled.
Non intact skin (e.g. cuts, abrasions, or dermatitis) constitute a breach in the skin’s protective barrier and should be covered with protective waterproof dressing (eg. ‘Opsite’, ‘Tegaderm’) or gloves.
Aqueous-based hand creams can be used to avoid chapped hands. Oil-based preparations should be avoided as they may cause latex gloves to deteriorate.
All staff are encouraged to maintain good skin integrity. Regular use of moisturising lotions is encouraged. In clinical areas only moisturising lotions endorsed and provided by the facility are to be used, as these are compatible with the hand hygiene products currently in use.
Any adverse skin conditions should be reported to the Occupational Health & Safety Department.
Read the Benalla Health Hand Hygiene procedure.
Complete the Hand Hygiene Online Learning Package. Print out the of Completion and bring it with you on orientation day.
Note: If you have been on placement at Benalla Health before, the certificate is valid for a 12-month period but we will need to site the certificate at the start of each placement.
Prowipes are alcohol impregnated wipes which are used to clean all shared patient equipment after each patient use. They are available in readily accessible places in every ward, on most trolleys and on shared patient equipment (such as observation machines). All shared equipment needs to be cleaned between patients; prowipes enable equipment such as oximeters and thermometers to be cleaned quickly and efficiently to prevent cross infection.
Personal protective equipment (PPE)
We encourage you to use personal protective wear such as gloves and eye wear in any situation where you may be exposed to patient body fluids or contaminated materials. This is particularly important if you have any cuts or grazes on your hands; body fluid exposure in this instance would require us to follow our body fluids exposure protocol. The hospital provides powder free, latex free gloves for your use. Personal protective eye wear is also available for use and you are encouraged utilise these whenever appropriate.
If an exposure such as an eye splash or a needle stick injury does occur please see the person in charge of your shift immediately so that the appropriate measures can be put in place, this will include screening for Hep B, Hep C and HIV as well as the appropriate counselling and reporting.
- Gloves are intended for single use only.
- Gloves are to be worn as a standard precaution for staff safety when handling blood or other body fluids
- Routine use of gloves is not recommended when caring for ‘contact precaution’ patients, unless as previously noted, when handling blood or body fluids. Good hand hygiene provides better protection.
- Gloves must be changed between conducting clean and dirty procedures, even if performed on the same patient,
- Gloves must not be washed or cleaned with hand washing agents or alcohol based hand rubs,
- Gloves must not be worn when answering telephones, using computer keyboards, opening doors or writing patient notes.
- Gloves must not be worn when taking linen off the linen trolley.
Note: Gloves do not always provide a completely impermeable barrier to the user, therefore it is important that hand hygiene is performed before and after glove usage.