Hand washing, Universal Precautions and the Caregiver

Posted by Bonnie McCormick 2 years, 7 months ago (0 comments)

There is always a lot of talk about hand washing and its’ benefits to the public in general. But how many of you really take it to heart? When you realize how DIRTY the world is, you start to embrace the fact that you move through the world with your hands… and therefore, every time you touch a doorknob, light switch, grocery cart, restaurant chair, ATM, or borrow a pen from someone, get on the bus, or simply push open the restroom door, you are contaminating your hands with the bacteria of others. The human body is designed to fight off this kind of day-to-day exposure. Our immune systems fight off infections every day, just as our bodies are covered in helpful, resident bacteria that fight off other, less friendly strains. Our resident bacteria protect us from being overwhelmed by the possibilities of infection in the world. However, this does not excuse us from practicing good hand washing skills. This means scrubbing our hands, back and front, between the fingers, under the nails, under your jewelry, and with vigor… for at least 20 seconds. It takes approximately 20 seconds to sing the “Happy Birthday” song twice, so hum it under your breath while washing and you will realize that 20 seconds is longer than you think. The use of antibacterial gels is an often controversial subject. Some believe that they are deleterious to society, causing the existence of “superbugs”, or bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics because they are evolving and changing to be able to fight off the antibiotics they were designed to fight. My opinion on antibiotic gels is that they are a fine substitute for hand washing when soap and water are unavailable, but that they do not replace it. I use antibacterial gels for myself and my family when we are in public and in bacteria ridden environments, such as a public restroom. I understand the theory about “superbugs”, but I still don’t want my children to get sick from other people’s germs. If you would like to learn more about proper hand washing, and how to protect yourself against many different forms of infection, take our Universal Precautions class (check out our course catalog for details). You can take the class, print a certificate, and get continuing education credit in most states right from your home computer. Yours in cleanliness… Bonnie McCormick RN
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