Hand hygiene

Hand hygiene is the single most effective way to reduce the risk of health care associated infections. Hand hygiene is the removal or destruction of microorganisms from hands by washing with soap and water or using alcohol-based hand rub.

What is hand hygiene?

Hand hygiene is the term used in hospitals to describe cleaning hands. There are two ways to clean hands:

  • Using an alcohol-based hand rub (“hand sanitizer”) 
  • Using soap and water.

Why is hand hygiene so important?

Hands are the main way that germs are spread. Germs are often harmless but they can also make you sick. Hands pick up germs from touching other people, things such as doorknobs and light switches, and by coughing or sneezing into your hands. Hand hygiene is the best way to prevent the spread of germs and to keep from getting sick.

Patients, family members, visitors and health care professionals all have a role to play in preventing the spread of germs in the hospital. As part of our commitment to provide the highest quality care and experience to our patients and their families, Guelph General Hospital would like to invite you to ask staff caring for you if they’ve cleaned their hands. Please ask!

When should you do hand hygiene?

Hand hygiene should be done when hands are visibly dirty and:

  • Before eating or touching food
  • After using the toilet, bedpan or commode
  • After blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing
  • Before leaving your room
  • When entering your room

Do visitors need to do hand hygiene?

Yes! Visitors should do hand hygiene when they come into the hospital and:

  • Before entering and after leaving your room
  • Before helping you with your meal
  • Before going to visit or help another patient   
  • After removing gown, gloves, and/or mask worn for patients in Additional Precautions

Health Care Professionals and Hand Hygiene

People looking after you should do hand hygiene:

  • Before touching you or anything in your room
  • Before helping you eat
  • Between contact with different patients
  • Before carrying out tasks like starting an IV, taking a blood sample, or giving you a medication
  • After doing something that might lead to contact with body fluids, such as emptying your catheter bag, or helping you with your toileting needs

For more information on Hand Hygiene Rates, please call Infection Prevention and Control at 519-837-6440, extension 6481.

Hand hygiene compliance is defined as hand hygiene that is performed when one of the “4 Moments” occurs:  before patient/environment contact, before aseptic procedures, after body fluid exposure risk and after patient/environment contact by health care providers.

Hospitals will post the compliance rate for:

  • Hand hygiene before initial patient/patient environment contact by combined health care provider type
  • Hand hygiene after patient/patient environment contact by combined health care provider type