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Healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) are a threat to patient safety. They can affect patients in all healthcare settings and hereby contributing to morbidity and mortality and cost of care. Multiple factors contribute to the risk of HAI including ageing population, complexity of therapies and emergence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. HAI can be caused by endogenous or exogenous infectious agents, with the hands known to be the most common transmission route.
Hand hygiene is known to be able to prevent and control HAIs. Any healthcare worker, caregiver or person involved in direct or indirect patient care needs to be concerned about hand hygiene and should be able to perform it correctly at the right time.
HAIs are estimated to occur in acute care hospitals in Europe annually.
deaths is the anual mortality due to HAI in Europe.
is the annual economic burden on HAIs in acute care hospitals in Europe.
deaths is the anual mortality in Europe where HAI had contributed to death.
of HAIs can be avoided by disrupting infection transfer through touching hands with environmental cleaning programs.
In winter months cold and dry air can result in drier hands as water evaporates from the epidermis quicker. Use of a hand cream can both provide protection and help insulate the skin, locking the moisture in.
Washing with too hot water can add to dryness of the skin. Better reduce the temperature of the water to lukewarm in order to protect the skin from transepidermal water loss.
Soap is generally known to have the potential to disturb skin integrity, particularly in elderly people. In contrary to syndets or amphoteric surfactants soap intensifies skin dryness. Its pH impairs the skin barrier. Soap can dissolve lipophilic components from the skin and thereby contribute to skin irritation. If soap is used for handwashing appropriate rinsing to all soap residues is crucial.
Heavy abrasion against the skin can mechanically irritate and inflame dry skin. Avoid excessive rubbing of the hands with towels. Abrasion is also known to enhance the epidermal permeability and make the skin more susceptible for substances and solutes on the skin, especially for hydrophilic penetrants. Thus, better use soft materials, e.g. terrycloth and better tab one's skin than rub it.
Occupational skin dryness with or without irritant contact dermatitis is associated with glove wearing. Especially, applying gloves to wet hands can irritate the skin and cause dryness. Always dry hands thoroughly before donning gloves. Check with your occupational health team if irritation continues.
You have an excellent hand hygiene program in your hospital? Apply now for the prestigous Hand Hygiene Excellence Award. Demonstrate your skills in successfully reducing HAI (hospital acquired infections) rates by implementing a hand hygiene programme. The award is conceived as a platform to identify, recognize, honour and celebrate those hospitals and healt care work groups which have contributed to improving patient safety through excellence, enthusiasm and innovatory methods.
1) WHO: "Evidence of hand hygiene to reduce transmission and infections by multidrug resistant organisms in health-care settings"; https://cdn.who.int/media/docs/default-source/integrated-health-services-(ihs)/infection-prevention-and-control/mdro-literature-review.pdf?sfvrsn=88dd45c7_2 (accessed 01.02.2016)