Question: I have been a nurse for years and have always understood the importance of hand washing - now I am told that it is called Hand Hygiene. Why the change in terminology?
I guess nothing ever stays the same but the change in terminology came about with the new CDC Guidelines in 2002 and are now part of the 2004 National Patient Safety Goals and Requirements for JCAHO. We all know that this is the most important factor in preventing the spread of communicable diseases and reducing the overall infection rate.
Hand Hygiene not only covers the traditional handwashing with soap and water but also covers hand cleansing with antiseptic agents and the use of antiseptic hand-rubs (waterless cleansers) which can come in very handy in some of our home care settings. Alcohol-based hand rubs significantly reduce the number of microorganisms on skin, are fast acting and cause less skin irritation. Use of antimicrobial-impregnated wipes such, as alcohol-based towelettes are not an acceptable substitute for alcohol-based hand rubs but can be used after washing hands with a non-antimicrobial soap and water.
VNAA members have been asking when we would be updating our 2002 Procedure Manual with the new Hand Hygiene Procedure. We will have the 2004 Edition of the VNAA Nursing Procedure Manual ready for distribution early summer but for those who want a preview of this updated policy click here .
Send us your questions - clinical, operational, educational, practical - and we’ll do our best to find the answers that will make your delivery of care more comprehensive. Please e-mail your questions to [email protected] and we’ll do our best to find you an answer.