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Running head: HAND HYGIENE

Safety and Quality through Hand Hygiene Rachel Hodges Ferris State University

HAND HYGIENE Safety and Quality through Hand Hygiene

Safety and quality are very important in nursing care. In order to provide adequate care, a nurse must assess the safety and quality of every technique that they use to decide whether or not it is the best technique. If the safety and quality of a technique is compromised, the patient may be at risk for falling, developing an infection, or something else that would be harmful to them. As a nurse, it is your job to keep patients safe and provide quality care to them while they are in your health care facility. There are many practices that nurses use to ensure the safety and quality of patients. One practice associated with safety and quality in nursing care is hand washing and hand hygiene. One of the main vectors for nosocomial infections in health care settings is the hands of employees (McLaughlin & Walsh, 2012). It is very important to prevent nosocomial infections while working in a hospital or other health care facility. An infection could increase the days of stay in the facility, and if it was acquired during the patients stay in the facility, many insurance companies and third party payers would not cover the related costs. When a health care worker causes a nosocomial infection, they are not only harming the patient, but they are costing the health care facility that they work for a large sum of money. Anywhere from 3.9 104 to 4.6 106 aerobic bacteria colony-forming units can be found on a health care workers hands (Petty, 2009). That is an unfathomable and frightening amount of bacteria. The good news is, there is a very simple, and effective method to reducing this bacteria, and that is hand washing. It only takes 40-60 seconds (Petty, 2009) to effectively wash your hands and protect yourself and patients. In that short amount of time you can decrease the morbidity and mortality rates of patients in

HAND HYGIENE your facility. The WHO established guidelines for when hand hygiene should be done including: before touching a patient, before a clean/aseptic procedure, after body fluid exposure risk, after touching a patient, and after touching patient surroundings (Petty, 2009). It has been estimated that 20-40% of nosocomial or health care-associated infections are preventable (Pincock, Bernstein, Warthman, & Holst, 2012). To provide

quality care and keep patients safe, nurses need to prevent these infections by performing hand hygiene at all of the times it is needed as stated by the WHO. When a nurse does not wash their hands because they do not think that they are soiled, they think it is a waste of their time, it dries out their hands, or they forget, they are compromising the quality of care that they are giving to their patients as well as the safety of themselves and their patients. It has been proven that hand washing is an effective method for reducing bacteria and preventing infections. Nurses know that it is necessary and still choose not to wash their hands. Not complying with the hand hygiene requirements then becomes an ethical issue as well. Nurses are knowingly spreading infections and not taking the proper precautions to prevent them when they choose to perform nursing skills without washing their hands when it is needed. Washing your hands with soap and water at a sink is no longer the only option that nurses have for cleaning their hands. Antiseptic, alcohol-based hand rubs can also be used for hand hygiene purposes. This method is even quicker than hand washing and only takes 20-30 seconds to be effective (Petty, 2009). These hand rubs cannot be used in all instances, like when hands are visibly soiled. However, most of the time they can be used as an alternate method of hand hygiene.

HAND HYGIENE One theory that is associated with safety and quality practices for nurses is the

adaptation theory (Taylor, Lillis, LeMone & Lynn, 2011, p. 72). Nurses must adjust their everyday practices from home to accommodate for the rules and regulations put into place to keep patients safe and to provide quality care. A nurse has to adjust their hand hygiene practices based on the setting where they are working, the patients that they are caring for, and the facility that they work for. It is important for them to be able to adapt safety and quality practices depending on the situation. Hand hygiene is just one practice associated with safety and quality in nursing care, but it is a very important one. Washing your hands may seem like a small detail that can be skipped on occasion, but it is necessary for nurses to perform hand hygiene at all the times required by the WHO and their facility. Patients and employees of a health care facility are kept safe when hand hygiene is used and it ensures that quality care is being given. It is vital for nurses to take the extra minute of their time to wash their hands and protect themselves and others from the spread of infections.


McLaughlin, A., & Walsh, F. (2012). Self-reported reasons for hand hygiene in 3 groups of health care workers. American Journal of Infection Control, 40(7), 653-658. doi: 10.1016/j.ajic.2011.08.014 Petty, W. C. (2009). PACU why hand washing is vital. Journal of PeriAnesthesia Nursing, 24(4), 250-253. doi: 10.1016/j.jopan.2009.05.101 Pincock, T., Bernstein, P., Warthman, S., & Holst, E. (2012). Bundling hand hygiene interventions and measurements to decrease health care-associated infections. American Journal of Infection Control, 40(4), S18-S27. doi: 10.1016/j.aijc.2012.02.008 Taylor, C., Lillis, C., LeMone, P., & Lynn, P. (2011). Fundamentals of nursing: the art and science of nursing care (7th ed.). Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

HAND HYGIENE Grading Rubric NURS 240 APA Paper on Safety/Quality and corresponding Theory (120 points possible)
Criteria Not Submitte d 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 More Than 2 Areas Incomplete or Inaccurate 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 1 or 2 Areas Incomplete or Inaccurate 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 8

Complete & Accurate 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 30 10 10 120

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