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Recognizing World Hand Hygiene Day

Every year, the World Health Organization celebrates World Hand Hygiene Day on May 5 to promote clean and safe hands for safe patient care.
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​Every year, the World Health Organization celebrates World Hand Hygiene Day on May 5 to promote clean and safe hands for safe patient care. This year’s slogan is “Unite for Safety: Clean your Hands.” 

PHSA staff, physicians, patients, clients, families, and visitors can play a critical role in preventing the spread of infections by adopting frequent hand hygiene as part of their day-to-day practices – uniting to promote and encourage good hand hygiene practices. 

Why hand hygiene is critical

The germs that cause various infections are always present in our environment. These germs are spread very easily through our hands. Activities such as touching a door handle, shaking someone’s hand or wiping a child’s nose can collect and spread germs. When performed correctly, hand hygiene is the single most effective way to prevent the spread of communicable diseases and infections.

Use of plain soap and warm water or alcohol-based hand rub, a.k.a. hand sanitizer containing at least 60 percent alcohol (70-90 percent alcohol is preferred in health care settings), are both excellent methods for cleaning hands. It is preferable to use soap and water when hands are visibly soiled. Anti-bacterial products are not recommended for everyday use. Gloves do not replace hand hygiene because germs can still get onto your hands through holes or during glove removal, and ABHR should not be used on gloves.  

How we clean our hands

This year, PHSA’s Infection Prevention and Control (IPAC) team celebrated World Hand Hygiene Day in a light-hearted and fun way. Health-care workers, patients, clients, families, and visitors across all programs were brought together to film a flash mob on proper hand-cleaning techniques. The flash mob video builds on BC Children’s Hospital and BC Women’s Hospital + Health Centre’s ongoing Hand Hygiene Heroes campaign, raising awareness about hand hygiene and encouraging staff and visitors to be a Hand Hygiene Hero in their own communities across BC. Thank you to all those who joined in on the fun. 

Watch the flash mob video below.


Resources for health care professionals

Effective hand-hygiene practices prevent the spread of infection and save lives. As a health care professional, always follow these four moments of hand hygiene (internal link) when providing patient care:

  1. Before initial patient/patient environment contact;
  2. Before aseptic procedure;
  3. After body fluid exposure;
  4. After patient/patient environment contact, plus other usual moments (e.g., before eating/drinking, using the bathroom, leaving/returning to the area)

Resources for family and friends

The Hand Hygiene Heroes video highlights the four different moments in health care settings when it is important for patients, family and visitors to clean their hands:
  • Before entering any new area of the health care facility 
  • Before eating or providing any hands-on care
  • After contact with other people or body fluids
  • After leaving any area of the health care facility
An additional video demonstrates the proper way to wash or sanitize your hands so you clean all the frequently-missed areas of the hands, like between your fingers and at the wrists. 

Learn more about hand hygiene, including when and how to properly wash your hands, below: 

SOURCE: Recognizing World Hand Hygiene Day ( )
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