Health Care-Associated Infections (HCAI) are infections resulting from medical care or treatments in a hospital/ facility setting, primary care setting, nursing home, or the patient's own home - this definition of HCAI reflects the fact that healthcare has changed and is now often performed outside of a hospital/ facility environment. Infections occur daily and can cause serious harm or death. This can simply be avoided by cleaning your hands at the right times and in the right way.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has developed the "My 5 Moments for Hand Hygiene" approach, to simplify training, measurement of compliance, and enhance the promotion of the times when good hygiene needs to be applied.
Why & When?
1. Before Touching The Patient
Why? To protect the patient against colonization and exogenous infection by harmful germs carried on your hands.
When? Clean your hands before touching a patient >
- Before shaking hands
- Before assisting a patient in personal care activities: to move, to take a bath, to eat, to get dressed, etc.
- Before delivering care and other non-invasive treatment: applying oxygen mask, giving a message
- Before performing a physical non-invasive examination: taking a pulse, blood pressure, recording ECG.
2. Before Clean/Aseptic Procedures
Why? To protect the patient against infection with harmful germs, including his/her own germs entering his/her body.
When? Clean your hands immediately before accessing a critical site with infectious risk for the patient. (a mucous membrane, non-intact skin, an invasive medical device.)
- Before brushing the patient's teeth, instilling eye drops, performing a digital vaginal or rectal examination, examining the mouth, nose, ear with or without an instrument, inserting a suppletory/pessary suctioning mucous.
- Before dressing a wound with or without an instrument, applying the ointment, making a percutaneous injection/puncture.
- Before inserting an invasive medical device (nasal cannula, nasogastric tube, endotracheal tube, urinary probe, percutaneous catheter, drainage) disrupting/opening any circuit of an invasive medical device (for food, medication, draining, suctioning, monitoring purposes)
- Before preparing food, medications, pharmaceutical products, sterile material.
3. After Body Fluid Exposure Risk
Why? To protect you from colonization of infection with patients harmful germs and to protect the health-care environment from germ spread.
When? Clean your hands as soon as the task involving exposure risk to body fluids has ended (and after glove removal)
- When the contact with mucous membrane and with non-intact skin ends
- After a percutaneous injection or puncture: after inserting an invasive medical device (vascular access, catheter, tube, train, etc): after disrupting and opening an invasive circuit.
- After removing an invasive medical device
- After removing any form of material offering protection (napkin, dressing, gauze, sanitary towel, etc.)
- After handling a sample containing organic matter, after clearing body fluid, after cleaning any contaminated surface or solid material (bed linen, dentures, instruments, urinal, bedpan.)
4. After Touching A Patient
Why? To protect you from colonization with patient germs and to protect the healthcare environment from germ spread.
When? Clean your hands when leaving the patient's side, after having touched the patient.
- After shaking hands
- After you assisted the patients in personal care activities: to move, to bathe, to eat, to dress, etc.
- After delivering care and other non-invasive treatment, changing the bed linen as the patient is in, applying the oxygen mask, giving a massage.
- After performing a physical non-invasive examination: taking pulse, blood pressure, recording ECG.
5. After Touching Patient Surroundings
Why? To protect you from colonization with the patient germs that may be present on surfaces/objects in patient surroundings and to protect the healthcare environment from germ spread.
When? Clean your hands after touching any object or furniture when being in the patient's surroundings, without having touched the patient.
- After an activity involving physical contact with the patient's immediate environment: changing bed linen with the patient out of the bed, holding a bed rail, clearing a bedside table.
- After a care activity: adjusting perfusion speed, clearing a monitoring alarm
- After other contacts with surfaces or objects: leaning against a bed, leaning against a night table/bedside table.