Hand hygiene

Contact transmission by hands is the most common mode of transmission in health and social care. Hand disinfection and sometimes handwashing is performed to remove infectious agents and thereby break the mode of transmission.

Hand disinfection

Disinfect hands using an alcohol-based hand disinfectant or other product with equivalent effect. Use products procured by the employer, products must comply with SS-EN 1500. Hand disinfectants usually have a limited shelf life after the container has been opened. Ask the supplier for details about their product and label the bottle with the date it was opened.

Disinfect hands

  • immediately before and after contact with a patient/care recipient
  • before and after an aseptic task such as inserting a urine catheter or dressing a wound, handling medication, pharmaceutical products and sterile materials
  • before and after handling food
  • before and after using gloves
  • after tasks where hands have become contaminated or dirty
  • after handwashing.

Method for hand disinfection

  1. Apply 2-4 ml of the product in a cupped hand, depending on the size of the hands.
  2. Rub all over the hands. Start by rubbing the palms, back of the hands, fingertips, between the fingers, the thumbs and wrists. Finish by rubbing the forearms.
  3. Rub until the product has evaporated and the hands are dry.

Handwashing

Liquid soap usually has a limited shelf life after the container has been opened. The bottle must be labelled with a symbol indicating how long the product can be used for after opening. Therefore label the bottle with the date it was opened.

Wash your hands with soap and water before hand disinfection

  • if hands are visibly dirty or feel dirty
  • after contact with a patient/care recipient with diarrhoea or vomiting
  • if hands are soiled with body fluids.

Method for handwashing

  1. Wet hands under running water.
  2. Apply liquid soap.
  3. Rub soap into hands to create a lather.
  4. Ensure soap cover all surfaces of the hands. Start by rubbing the palms, back of the hands, fingertips, between fingers, the thumbs and wrists. Finish by rubbing the forearms.
  5. Rinse soap off under running water.
  6. Dry hands with a paper towel.
  7. Disinfect hands according to the instructions under the heading Hand disinfection.

Glove usage in health and social care

Gloves are disposable, for one time use only and must be changed between each task. Gloves must be worn when in direct contact with body fluids or when there is a risk of exposure to body fluids such as blood, urine, faeces, vomit and secretions. Gloves are also worn during activities that result in hands becoming dirty. Gloves must be removed and disposed of immediately after the task is completed.

Gloves are single-use items and must never be reused, washed or decontaminated. Disinfect hands immediately before putting on gloves and immediately after gloves have been removed.

Local instructions specify what gloves to use in different tasks or care activities.

Aprons and gowns

Infectious agents can spread between patients/care recipients and staff via contaminated work clothing.

A disposable plastic apron or reusable gown must be worn when there is a risk of work clothing becoming dirty, contaminated with body fluids, skin scales or have direct contact with the patient's/care recipient's skin. Disposable plastic aprons provide better protection against fluids. A reusable gown is specific to one patient/care recipient.

Change reusable gowns daily or when it is visibly dirty or wet. Discard disposable plastic aprons immediately after use.

Local instructions specify if more extensive protective clothing need to be used with specific infections or situations.

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