We know how much responsibility you have while being a nurse.
Every medical professional dedicates his/herself to treat their patients right. The happiness of every nurse lies under the smile of their patients.
However, without knowing, you can often harm your patients and get yourself harmed as well.
Well, it’s by transmitting the infections from one patient to another.
In the daily lives of medical activities, nurses have to treat a lot of patients with different diseases. There lies a huge chance of these diseases getting transmitted to everyone.
This is why to save yourself and your patients from these diseases, you should always keep your hands clean and protected from infections. You need to wash your hands properly to make sure the infections do not get in touch with you.
To make sure you maintain good hand hygiene, we’re here to help you know about the necessary hand washing steps for nurses. So, without further ado, let’s dive into the topic.
Definition of Handwashing in Nursing
If you clean your hands by using any liquid or with or without soap to remove the dirt or microorganisms from your hands, this procedure is handwashing.
It is the ultimate solution to reduce the risk of transmitting diseases. If you always keep your hands clean using anti-bacterial liquids, you’re far away from diseases.
The Purpose of Handwashing in Nursing
If you have poor hand hygiene, there’s a huge chance that infections and illness will pay you visits regularly. As you’re a nurse, you definitely have to expose yourself to sick patients.
While taking care of ill patients, there’s a huge chance where some of their illness may transmit to you. You can also get infected as you touch an object.
If you don’t keep yourself clean, it can become a threat to you. Also, when you’ll reach other patients, you may work as a medium of transmitting diseases from one patient to another. What worse, you can pass on these diseases or infections to other stuff or even your family.
This is why always keeping yourself clean is a must and washing your hands with antiseptic can work as a shield. If you’re protected by anti-bacterial elements, you are less likely to get affected by diseases.
Types of Handwashing in Nursing
There are different types of handwashing. Let’s enlighten you about their steps and you’ll know all by yourself which process you need for yourself.
Social Hand Wash
Why should you perform a social hand wash?
If you want to render the hands physically clean and you want to remove the transient micro-organisms, social handwashing is the key. The process gives you a clear demonstrated efficacy in terms of infection control practice. It also reduces the spread of infection.
When to perform a social hand wash?
This is a very important question and we’re here to give you the answer. You can perform a social handwash before and after some tasks. Let’s give you the tour on it.
- You can perform a social handwash before the beginning of the shift in your workplace
- Performing social handwash before preparing, handling and eating food is a wise idea.
- You can perform it before donning gloves
- Before contacting any patient physically, it is wise to perform a social handwash.
- Before entering or leaving clinical areas, we would recommend you perform a social wash.
- Before entering or leaving any isolation cubicles
- Before handling laundry
- You should perform the social hand wash after your shift has ended.
- After you’ve taken care of a patient physically, you should perform a social hand wash.
- When you’ve removed your gloves, it’s time to get rid of those permanently and perform a social wash.
- Always perform a social hand wash after visiting the toilet.
How should one Perform a Social Handwashing?
- First off, you should make your hands wet under running warm water.
- Let one dose of soap dispense into your cupped hands.
- It’s now time for you to rub your hands’ palm to palm.
- When you’re done, it is now time for you to wash your right palm over the other hand with the help of interlaced fingers. Follow the same process for the left palm as well.
- Now while the back of the fingers opposes your palms with fingers interlocked, rationally rub the left thumb clasped in your right palm. Repeat the procedure for the left palm as well with the right thumb.
- After you’ve done all the things above, it is time for you to rinse your hands with warm water.
- Now it’s time to dry your hands by using a paper towel.
Antiseptic Handwash is a cleaning technique where you use the water with antimicrobial soap. The main purpose is to remove or destroy transient microorganisms and reduce resident flora.
To make sure you have performed antiseptic handwash, you need to follow the steps below.
- First, gather all the supplies you need. After you have everything you need, stand in front of the sink.
- Wet your hands with water and make sure the wrist area is wet as well. You need to allow water to flow towards the fingertips. This is why it is wise to keep your hands lower than elbows.
- Now you need to cover all the areas of your hands with soap.
- Next, you need to wash your palms and backs of the hand with firm rubbing and circular motion. Also, make sure each of your fingers, the knuckles, wrists, and forearms are get washed.
- Continue this process for 30 seconds
- Now rinse thoroughly with water and wash in such a way so that the water flow towards your fingertips.
- Starting with the fingers pat all your hands dry. Move upward towards the forearms with a paper towel if necessary.
- To turn off the faucet using a clean paper towel if you do not have any sensor or foot paddle.
Surgical antisepsis, also known as the sterile technique is the process that prevents any contamination that develops on an open wound. If you want to maintain a sterile field for surgery and serve to isolate the operative area from the unsterile environment, surgical antisepsis is the way.
To perform surgical antisepsis correctly, follow the steps below.
- If you have any jewelry on your hands, make sure you remove all of the pieces before starting the process.
- Using sterile water with a water closet to your body temperature, you’ll need to wet your hands.
- Take the help of an antimicrobial soap or povidone-iodine to wash your hands completely.
- Use a nail file to clean the subungual areas.
- Make your way between your fingers and scrub them. Also, make sure you scrub gently each side of each finger. Don’t ignore the backs and fronts of your hands. This whole process must go on at least 4 minutes.
- Now it’s time to scrub your hands gently. Make sure you keep your hands higher than the arm all the time. This will not only prevent bacteria-laden soap but also prevent the water from contaminating your hands.
- After everything is done, it’s time for you to rinse your hands and arms. Now here’s something you need to remember. Make sure when you pass your hands and arms through the flowing water, it happens in one direction only, from fingertips to elbow.
- Now hold your hands above elbows and proceed to the operating rooms.
- That’s it, now you need to dry your hands and arms. To do this, you need to use a sterile towel observing aseptic technique.
Importance of Hand Hygiene in Nursing
Why as a nurse, you’ll need to give importance to hand hygiene? Well, the importance actually knows no bound at all.
One of the leading causes of Healthcare Associated Infections is the failure to perform hand hygiene appropriately. This failure also leads to significant outbreaks. Source- Boyce, 1999; WHO patients safety 2009)
In the 19th century, it was the Vienna hospital that first realized the importance of hand hygiene. Suddenly all the maternity patients started to die at a very high rate. Seeing this, Dr. Ignaz Semmelweis gave orders to his staff member to wash their hands before treating their patients. Surprisingly, this process actually made a drastic change. The table turned as all the patients started to get recoveries.
Source: (Boyce et al, 2006; Pittet, 2000; Pittet, 2001).
If you want to eliminate the spread of germs and infections and their transmission from person to person, then having good personal hygiene is a must. And keeping good hand hygiene is one of the major factors of having good personal hygiene. It helps to eliminate the spread of illnesses that are caused by infections.
Sicknesses like flue, cold, upper respiratory illness often happen due to the lack of having appropriate hand hygiene. However, if you maintain hygiene, you can say all of these illnesses goodbye. Wash your hands every day using different antiseptics, and you’ll see the spread of germs and infections are reduced if you’re already infected.
If the bacteria from cadavers transfer to the patient from the staff’s hand, it can actually lead to a high death rate. This is why making sure medical professionals are washing their hands regularly and maintaining good hand hygiene is pretty important.
Having good hand hygiene is a simple work.
However, this simple job can work as a cure for a lot of patients.
In fact, it can work better than vaccine and medical intervention. To keep good hand hygiene, it is a must to know the suggested hand washing steps for nurses.
We hope if every medical professional maintains good hygiene, the world will witness a low rate of sickness.