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Proper hand hygiene a must

Carol-Ann Tudor

Proper hand hygiene a must

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WEARING GLOVES while treating patients can help reduce the transmission of infectious agents in high-risk situations but cannot replace proper hand hygiene, says Chief Medical Officer Dr Joy St John.
St John, addressing a seminar at the Geriatric Hospital on Hand Hygiene And The Use Of Personal Protective Equipment, stressed that gloves could become contaminated and had to be used properly.
“Gloves protect patients by reducing contamination of the health care worker’s hands and subsequent transmission of pathogens to other patients. However, gloves must be used properly.
“Gloves can become contaminated during care and must be removed or changed when moving from a contaminated site to a clean site on the same patient. Gloved hands can also become contaminated due to tiny punctures in the glove material or during glove removal; therefore, hand hygiene must be performed immediately after glove removal,” she added.
St John noted that the most common occupational risk faced by health care personnel was contact with blood and body fluids during routine patient care.
The exposure to pathogens, she said, increased the risk of infection for both the health care worker and the patient.
“Health care-associated infections are an important cause of morbidity and mortality among hospitalized patients worldwide. Such infections affect nearly two million individuals annually in the US and are responsible for approximately 80 000 deaths each year,” she said.
The Chief Medical Officer also pointed out that among health care workers the level of compliance with recommended hand hygiene procedures had remained unacceptable, with compliance rates generally below 50 per cent of hand hygiene opportunities.