Nursing Home Staff Should Be Doing This More Often

nursing home staff must wash hands

7 Hand Hygiene Truths to Keep Your Loved One’s Nursing Home Accountable

Hand hygiene for infection prevention is an essential part of the U.S. response to the preventing further spread of COVID-19 in long-term care facilities. Nursing home staff should especially adhere to the standard and transmission-based precautions when caring for their patients. Here is a closer look at seven truths provided by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to explain how properly cleaned hands of health care workers can protect our most vulnerable populations.

  1. Alcohol-based hand sanitizer is more effective and less drying than using soap and water. Compared to soap and water, alcohol-based hand sanitizers are better at reducing bacterial counts on hands and are effective against multidrug-resistant organisms (e.g., MRSA). Additionally, alcohol-based hand sanitizers cause less skin irritation than frequent use of soap and water.
  2. Alcohol-based hand sanitizer does not kill everything. But it
    is still an overall recommended method for hand hygiene practice in U.S. health care settings.
  3. Using alcohol-based hand sanitizer does NOT cause antibiotic resistance. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers kill germs quickly and in a different way than antibiotics. There is no chance for the germs to adapt or develop resistance.
  4. Some healthcare providers miss certain areas when cleaning their hands. Using alcohol-based hand sanitizer becomes a habit, and sometimes healthcare providers miss certain areas: fingertips, thumbs, and between fingers.
  5. The amount of product you use matters. Use enough alcohol-based hand sanitizer to cover all surfaces of your hands. Rub your hands together until they are dry. Your hands should stay wet for around 20 seconds if you used the right amount.
  6. Glove use is not a substitute for cleaning your hands. Dirty gloves can soil your hands. Clean your hands after removing gloves to protect yourself and your patients from infection.
  7. On average, healthcare providers perform hand hygiene less than half of the times they should. When healthcare providers do not perform hand hygiene 100% of the time they should, they put themselves and their patients at risk for serious infections such as COVID-19.

Health care providers clean their hands less than half of the times they should, according to the National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases.

Hygiene Methods Recommended by the CDC For Health Care Providers

If you are an Illinois health care worker, we encourage you to protect yourself and residents from potentially deadly germs and viruses, including the novel coronavirus by following all safety precautions, including cleaning your hands following CDC recommendations.

  • Use Alcohol-Based Hand Rub with 60-95% alcohol in healthcare settings. Unless hands are visibly soiled, an alcohol-based hand rub is preferred over soap and water in most clinical situations due to evidence of better compliance compared to soap and water.
  • Hands should be washed with soap and water for at least 20 seconds when visibly soiled, before eating, and after using the restroom.

This is not a time for long-term care facilities to disregard proper hand hygiene practices or ignore infection control measures and recommendations. If you are a health care worker or nursing home resident advocate questioning the hand hygiene routines at a long-term care facility, we encourage you to learn more on the CDC’s Clean Hands Count for Healthcare Providers website. And, please reach out to us if you see something that doesn’t match up with CDC protocols. Sharing what you know can and does help others.

Chicago Nursing Home Attorneys for Infectious Disease-Related Injuries 

The team at Levin & Perconti is working tirelessly to advocate for nursing home residents during this time. We invite you to use our resources to protect your loved ones. But if you suspect mistreatment of a nursing home resident as the cause of their illness or untimely death, please contact Levin & Perconti. We take pride in being one of the nation’s most recognized and respected leaders in the areas of elder abuse and nursing home negligence litigation. Please, contact us now for a FREE consultation at 312-332-2872 in Chicago, or reach us toll-free at 1-877-374-1417.

Also read: New CMS Survey Shows 36% Of Long-Term Care Facility Staff Still Aren’t Washing Their Hands Properly




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