October 27 – 31, 2014 is Canadian Patient Safety Week.
At Eastern Health, we aim to provide safe and quality care every day. Canadian Patient Safety Week gives us a designated time when a national spotlight is placed on patient safety activities. This year, the Canadian Patient Safety Institute has selected hand hygiene as the focus for Patient Safety Week.
Good hand hygiene is everyone’s responsibility. As health care providers, we must be individually and collectively committed to providing quality care and services, and to keeping our patients, clients and residents safe.
Our staff know that hand hygiene is the best way to stop the spread of germs, which can cause infections. We found some hand hygiene champions and asked them to share their thoughts about the importance of clean hands.
In May 2014, Heather Clarke was awarded the CEO Award of Excellence for Safety. Heather is a registered nurse of 26 years who works at the Carbonear General Hospital Emergency Department, and a safety advocate instrumental in the development of safety initiatives in many areas of the workplace.
Patients respect and admire her professionalism and commitment to safety.
“Hand hygiene is a very important part of our routine workday,” Heather says. “It is the easiest and single most effective way to prevent the spread of infection to patients and yourself, in healthcare settings and everywhere. Good hand washing leads to a healthy and safe environment.”
Shawn, a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN), and Charlene, a Registered Nurse (RN), both work at the Salvation Army Glenbrook Lodge, and say that hand hygiene is a part of their routine – it has to be.
“You don’t even think about it anymore, you just automatically look for a sink or a sanitizer in between everything you do.” They say they would want anyone caring for themselves or their family to wash their hands – so they want to wash their hands when caring for residents.
Over at the Dr. Leonard A. Miller Centre, LPN Brad Halliday says that hand hygiene is the most important task to break the chain of infection. “Using a conveniently placed hand sanitizer before and after every patient contact becomes a habit when walking from one room to another,” he adds. “It takes two seconds to apply and 15 – 30 seconds to rub over all hand surfaces….everyone has at least 30 seconds walking between patients.”
Brad uses a sink, soap and water when he has a few extra seconds to spare or his hands are visibly soiled.
His LPN colleague Donna, at the Miller Centre, was also “caught in the act” of good hand hygiene! Donna says: “I wash my hands when I leave and enter a room, in between patients, in between care…in between EVERYTHING!”
A few hundred kilometres away at the Burin Peninsula Health Care Centre, Elaine Jackman and Kathy Warr know that it’s very important for formal and informal leaders to demonstrate good hand hygiene practices.
“Hand hygiene is everyone’s responsibility to prevent the spread of infection,” they add. “As both President of the Unit Council and the Care Facilitator, it is important for us to set a good hand hygiene example!”
Meanwhile, back at the Glenbrook Lodge, Shannon Samson is also a hand hygiene champion. The Personal Care Assistant feels it is important to be a positive role model for co-workers.
Her co-workers were quick to join her in saying that hand hygiene is a critical step in resident care that you have to make time for it in order to protect yourself and your residents.
They all agree that “Clean hands are the best start to great care!” ■
This story was written by Brenda Oldford, a Quality and Clinical Safety Leader based in St. John’s.
More About Hand Hygiene:
Hand hygiene is important not only for employees at healthcare facilities – but for anyone who visits, to ensure that infection is not spread from the outside to the inside – or vice versa!
Hand hygiene is practiced in two ways: washing your hands with soap and water or using an alcohol hand rub to clean your hands.
Washing hands with soap and water helps to physically remove the germs by friction, and then rinse them down the drain. This is especially important when your hands are visibly soiled.
Everyone knows how to wash their hands but it never hurts to be reminded of good technique– especially of the length of time required to ensure your hands are clean.
How Should You Wash Your Hands?
- Wet hands with water.
- Apply soap to hands.
- Rub hands vigorously together for 10-15
- To make sure you are washing long enough, try singing the “Happy Birthday Song.”
- Cover all surfaces of hands, including between fingers and around thumbs.
- Rinse hands well to remove soap residue.
- Dry hands gently with a paper towel.
- Use paper towel to turn off taps and then discard.
Alcohol hand rub kills 99.99 per cent of most common germs that may cause illness. Alcohol-based hand rub or sanitizer is a hand disinfectant that can be used for routine cleaning of hands when they are not visibly soiled.
How should it be applied?
- Apply one pump of alcohol hand rub to palm of one hand.
- Rub hands together.
- Spread hand rub thoroughly over hands, as you would if you were washing them
- Rub until hands are dry.