Hand Hygiene – The Key to Infection Prevention
It is well known that hand hygiene is the most important intervention to prevent infections. Yet infection control and prevention are still an issue in hospitals, schools, restaurants, and work. According to the CDC, healthcare providers clean their hands less than 50% as often as they should. Contaminated healthcare worker hands are the most common transmission of healthcare-associated infections. Water-free hand sanitizers are frequently used and encouraged to be made available in all areas of the care-continuum, including waiting rooms, hallways, and patient rooms.
With so many hand sanitizers on the market, how do you choose? Ethyl alcohol is the important ingredient that kills germs. But products containing less than 40% alcohol are not effective. The CDC recommends choosing a hand sanitizer with a minimum of 60% alcohol to maximize germ killing efficacy. One thing to consider is that although alcohol is the necessary ingredient to reduce the spread of illness and infection, it can dry out the skin making it chafed, cracked, and irritated. Using a gentle, non-irritating gel, foam, or spray that is still powerful enough to kill illness causing organisms is the best product to use. Finding products that comply with the CDC guidelines for hand & hygiene in healthcare settings and OSHA in food service and restaurants are hard to find but an important consideration.
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