Did you know that healthcare-associated infections (IAAS) acquired in health facilities are one of the main causes of death and increased morbidity in hospitalized patients?

Pathogens are commonly transmitted in healthcare settings through means such, as contact, droplets, air and shared objects. 

The frequent mode of transmission occurs when healthcare professionals’ hands become contaminated.

  1. These organisms can be found either on the patient’s skin or on objects near the patient.
  1. It is important for healthcare workers to transfer these organisms onto their hands.
  2. The pathogens can survive on the hands of healthcare workers for minutes.
  1. Inadequate hand washing or insufficient use of hand sanitizers or using agents for hand hygiene contribute to this problem.
  1. For transmission to occur the contaminated hands of a health worker must come into contact with another patient or an object that will subsequently touch another patient.

Pathogens associated with healthcare can originate not from wounds but also from a patient’s normal skin because viable microorganisms are shed daily from healthy skin and contaminate items like clothing, bedding, furniture and other objects in their surroundings.

One crucial preventive measure against infections is hand hygiene, through thorough hand washing.

To prevent the spread of germs and microorganisms, between individuals it is important to take precautions.

  1. Take measures to protect yourself.
  2. Avoid contaminating materials.
  3. Remove any bacteria from your skin.
Hand Hygiene in Healthcare

The proper hand Hygiene procedure for CNAs

Correct hand disinfection can be practiced in two ways;

1. Handwashing (as recommended by the WHO);

  • Wet your hands with water.
  • Apply soap to cover your hands surface.
  • Rub the palms of your hands together.
  • Interlock your fingers. Rub the palm of your hand against the back of your left hand then vice versa.
  • Rub your palms together with fingers interlocked.
  • Keep your fingers together. Rub the back of one hands fingers, against the palm of the hand.
  • Rub the tips of the fingers of your right hand against the palm of your left hand in a rotating motion and vice versa.
  • Rinse your hands.
  • Dry them with a disposable paper towel.
  • Use the disposable paper towel to turn off the faucet.

This hand washing technique with soap and water should last between 40 and 60 seconds and you should do it:

1. When you get to work and at the end of your workday.

2. After sneezing, coughing, or blowing your nose.

3. Before and after going to the bathroom.

4. Before and after eating food.

5. Before and after performing patient hygiene.

6. After handling dirty clothes.

7. Before and after you perform a cure.

8. Before and after preparing and administering medications.

9. Before and after performing extractions of biological fluids, punctures.

2. Hand hygiene using alcohol gel: the duration of this technique should last between 20 and 30 seconds and according to the WHO it should be done as follows:

  • Place a sufficient amount of product in the palm of your hand to cover the entire surface.
  • Rub the palms of your hands together.
  • Rub your right palm against the back of your left hand, interlocking your fingers and vice versa.
  • Rub your palms together, fingers interlocked.
  • Rub the back of the fingers of one hand with the palm of the opposite hand.
  • Rub the left thumb in a rotating motion rotating it with the palm of the right hand and vice versa.
  • Rub the tips of the fingers of your right hand against the palm of your left hand, making a rotating movement and vice versa.

This technique must be carried out:

  • Before you touch a patient.
  • Before carrying out any cleaning/aseptic task.
  • After the risk of exposure to bodily fluids.
  • After touching the patient.
  • After contact with the patient’s environment.

Literally your health is in your hands, so practice proper hand hygiene, it won’t take you long and it can save you from contagion.

Role of Hand Hygiene in CNA Exam and Practice

It is essential to have an understanding of the hand washing procedures, for the CNA exam. Keep in mind that specific instructions on when to wash hands are not provided so candidates are expected to know when it is necessary. Before any interaction, with a patient CNAs should remember that hand washing is required.

During the evaluation of skills the candidates hand washing technique will be assessed. After that it is important to mention that for the remainder of the exam candidates only need to indicate when they would wash their hands or demonstrate it physically.