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Infection Control: The Importance of Good Hand Hygiene

washing hands

How well do you wash your hands?
If you’re anything like the rest of us, not well enough. According to researchers from Michigan State University, only five per cent of people wash their hands long enough to kill infection-causing bacteria and germs.


With more than 3,700 people observed in public restrooms, 95 per cent of them were found to be cutting corners when it came to handwashing.
Indeed, 33 per cent didn’t use soap, while 10 per cent headed straight for the exit without even getting their hands wet.
For others, the average time spent washing their hands was just six seconds, which is way below the recommended duration for eradicating nasty bacteria.
Men were the worst culprits, with 15 per cent not washing at all, compared to just seven per cent of women. When the two did wash, 50 per cent of men used soap, compared to 79 per cent of women.
However, it seems there are some factors contributing to folk not washing, with a dirty sink and the time of day likely to have an effect on hand hygiene habits.

Hand Hygiene in Healthcare Establishments
It’s not just restroom users who run the risk of contracting an infection from poor hand hygiene.
A UK government health agency report has revealed that around one in 16 people treated at an NHS hospital will contract an infection.
This worrying statistic from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), found healthcare associated infections are a “very real threat” to patients.
To curb this threat, the latest NICE quality standard urges better infection control, with adequate facilities on hand to help prevent hygiene professionals spreading diseases such as MRSA and C. diff.
Professor Gillian Leng, Deputy Chief Executive and Director of Health and Social Care at NICE said it is “unacceptable” that infection rates are still so high within the NHS and warned that viruses can “make underlying conditions worse” and “reduce quality of life”.

Washing Your Hands Properly
Now you understand the risks of not cleaning your hands properly, when should you be washing?
Well, the first thing to remember is that you must wash your mitts after visiting the toilet, before handling food and after coughing or sneezing into your hands.
This will reduce the risk of flu, food poisoning and other infections being passed from one person to another.
To get a feel for how to wash your hands properly, take a look at this guide to keep yourself and others out of harm’s way.

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