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a. Purposes.

(1) Prevent nosocomial infection.

(2) Maintain safe, clean environment for patients.

(3) Provide safety for health care workers.

(4) Prevent cross-contamination of patients or the spread of microorganisms.

b. Scope of Responsibility. Teaching patients and visitors about procedures and appropriate times for handwashing is an important role for the health care provider. This enables the patient and family to inhibit the spread of microorganisms when health care is continued at home. The importance of handwashing before and after handling food, after handling contaminated articles, and before and after elimination should be stressed in the teaching process.

c. The Two-Minute Handwash. A two-minute handwash will provide appropriate protection before you begin working with a patient. A 30-second handwash should be sufficient before caring for another patient. A one-minute handwash should be appropriate if you have handled organic material or a contaminated object.

d. Additional Actions. In addition to handwashing, other actions can be taken to reduce the chance of transmitting microorganisms. The patient should receive a personal set of care articles, such as a bedpan, urinal, bath basin, thermometer, water pitcher, and drinking glass to prevent cross-contamination. Articles such as contaminated equipment and soiled linen should be placed in special waste containers or laundry bag, and kept away from your uniform.

e. Schedule for Handwashing. Handwashing is essential:

(1) Before and after caring for a patient.

(2) After contact with organic material, such as feces, wound drainage, and mucous.

(3) In preparation for an invasive procedure such as suctioning, catheterization, or injections.

(4) Before performing a dressing change or contact with an open wound.

(5) Before preparing and administering medications.

(6) After removing disposable gloves or handling contaminated equipment.


David L. Heiserman, Editor

Copyright   SweetHaven Publishing Services
All Rights Reserved

Revised: June 06, 2015