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Maintaining Patient Safety Through Hand Hygiene

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Why to Maintaining Patient Safety Through Hand Hygiene?



In the hospital environment, hand hygiene is imperative in preventing germs to ensure patient safety. Health care workers and clinicians can transfer germs to patients in hospital through their hands. Most studies and reports show that the rate of infections can reduce due to theimprovement of hygiene among the health workers. The health and safety of the patient are threatened when they interact with health workers who in most situations do not maintain good health standard (Abdella, Tefera & Alene, 2014). When such cases and situationsarise, the nurses should know how to deal with them. The paper discusses the relationship between patient safety and hand hygiene. The paper will also provide incidences of safety that affected the patient and the role that the nurses take in managing these risks.

When a patient is infected in the hospitals, there is an increase in morbidity and the cost of healthcare (Luangasanatip, Hongsuwan & Cooper, 2015) In most cases, this happenswhen the germs are transferred from the healthworkers to the patients.Improving the hygiene of the hands been seen as one of the ways in which the patient's safety and infections can be reduced. However, these can only be successful if the health workers are willing to abide by the health standards before they can attend any patient. Health workers especially the nurses are always in contact with the patients (Marimuthu, Pittet & Harbarth, 2014). The equipmentsthat the nurses use in cleaning their hands before handling the patient usually is meant to kill germs and reduce the spreading of diseases. Additionally, germs that have been spread from one patient to another can lead to the patient developing more illnesses due to additional germs, therefore threatening the patientsafety (Murni & Soenarto, 2014). The patient’s condition can also worsen due to the invasion of new germs; within the hospital environment, maintaining the hygiene standards is very vital.


Hand hygiene includes disinfecting the hands using alcohol, medicated soap,and washing the hands. Using soap that is disinfectant free will not be an effective way of maintaining proper hygiene as it does not have the elements of keeping the hands germ-free. Alcohol can be used as a strong antiseptic solution (Nair, Siraj& Raghunath, 2014). This is because it contains antimicrobialelements. Due to this element, it can be said to be one of the fastest ways of disinfecting since the alcohol dries fast making it possible for the nurse to handle more patient within a short span of time. Antiseptic has to be used prior and after handling the patient. Thehealth workers and people who most of the time or are not in contact with the patient should also maintain good hygiene standards which are important for the wellbeing of the patient. A good example of that staff is people who prepare the meals for the patients (Shinde & Mohite, 2014).

Some situations may arise where a nurse’s lack of hand hygiene can cause a threat to the safety of the patient. During my practice as a nurse, I got to see a nurse who did not adhere to hand hygiene standards. As she was dressing a patient who had open wounds she did not maintain hygiene. She failed to put on a clean medical pair of gloves and plainly washed it without using a disinfectant to kill the germs present. She went ahead to put the old bandage previously used to dress the patient on the floor instead of disposing it in a plastic bag and setting it aside to avoid contaminating the scene.On her way out she saw a patient with some discomfort on the bed and she went to help the patient stay in a better sleeping position. She did this disregarding the fact that her hands could have been contaminated while attending to the previous patient. Open wounds are likely to have dirt and debris and as the nurse was dressing the wound her hands could have picked on some germs considering the fact that she was not in any medical gloves and she failed to use a disinfectant when dressing the open wound. In addition, she failed to disinfect her already contaminated hands with an antiseptic before handling another patient. By doing so, she transferred the germs from the first patient to the other. Therefore, the health of the other patient was put at risk. Touching the other patient with dirty hands may transfer the germs to their skin and cause it to be infected. The patient is more likely to contact more illness or his or her condition may worsen.

In case such a situation was to arise in future, where I have just attended a patient and then realize that another one required my help, the first thought that would come into my mind would be to first disinfect my hands before I attend tothem. If there is the presence of a nursewho would be in a better position to attend to the patient, I would ask him or her to first attend to the patient as I disinfect my hands. While dressing open wounds I would stick to the hygiene guidelines to avoid transferring germs from one patient to another and advice fellow colleagues to follow suit. Nurses should prioritize hand hygiene before coming into contact with any patient.In such cases, I will ensure that I disinfect my hands before and after attending any patient to get rid of any germs picked from the patients.


One of the ethics of a registered nurse is to ensure that the patient’s safety is maintained throughout their treatment. In the above case, thenurses have the responsibility of maintaining and managing good hygiene. Among the health workers, (White, Jimmieson& Martin, 2015) the nurses are the ones that do spend most of the time with the patient. They should detect any errors, near misses, and identify care processes that exist within the system that can be a threat to the patient’s safety. In the above case study, the nurses needed to be more informed in on the proper hygiene of handling the patient. Identifying the proper processes, the nurse would have known the best action to tale after knowing the mistake that she had committed and take proper hygiene measures. Weaknesses in the systems of the hospital may prevent the nurses from taking the right measures of hygiene (White & Brain, 2015).

It is the responsibility of the nurses to adhere to the systems that have been put to ensure the safety of the patients in the hospital. Howeverthese systems can also be a hindrance to the nurse's efforts in trying to maintain the patient's safety. The nurses should take upon themselves to inform the hospital of any shortcomings of these systems to allow them to deliver good services. Aconvenient system would have helped in the above case study. This is by ensuring the nurses have sanitizers and disinfectantsthat they carry with them in their pockets. Disinfectants can also be put in strategic places in the hospital (Smiddy, O'Connell &Creedon, 2015). In the case study, if the nurse had disinfectant within their reach, she would have performed good hygiene.


Cases of health-related issues resulting from poor hand washing practices are on the increase. In reducing this health risks, nurses have the responsibility to come up with useful and applicable health strategies. One of the strategies that can be utilized to reduce these risks is by informing and educating the public on the importance of hand washing. In addition, nurses should be self- managed in order to take responsibility for one’s actions. In this case, reduction of health risks depends on the nurse’s competence, experience, training, and determination in the profession. Nurses need to be self-driven in regards to accountability and learning in the course their professional practice. Hence, it is appropriate for nurses to help their patients adjust their lifestyles and adopt good hygiene practices like hand washing in order to minimize infections and other related health complications.

Overall, hand hygienerefers to the process of removing germs and other microorganisms from the hands by the use of disinfectants. Disinfectants that can be used for hand hygiene include water, alcohol, or soap. The use of these disinfectants is the ideal way of minimizing or reducing infections. According to Rischbieth (2016), infections account for over 80, 000 deaths annually in the United States. According to the article, roughly 1.4 million people globally are suffering from health issues related to infections. Between five and ten percent of patients in developed countries acquire infections. However, with adequate hand hygiene, such infections can be prevented successfully. According to the research conducted by Grol et al. (2010), the use of hand antiseptics can get rid of ninety-nine percentage of infections. Therefore, in order to get rid of these infections, adequate hand hygiene is vital in order to maintain patient safety. The essay seeks to discuss the importance of hand hygiene and the leadership role of nurses in managing such risks.


In conclusion, 80,000 deaths have been linked to infections annually in the UnitedStates. According to WHO, between 5% and 10% suffer from healthcare associated infections.15% to 40%  that are in critical care are said to be affected by hand hygiene infections. Through good hand hygiene,this infection can be prevented. A study has also shown that by using hand antisepsis, these infections can be reduced. Good hand hygiene ensures the safety of the patient. The health workers have the responsibility of ensuring that their patients are safe and receive quality health services. Patients can be at risk due to poor hand hygiene by the nurses and health workers. This is the reason that these workers should maintain good hand hygiene.



Abdella, N. M., Tefera, &Alene, K. A. (2014). Hand hygiene compliance and associated factors among health care providers in Gondar University Hospital, Gondar, North West Ethiopia. BMC Public Health, 14(1), 96.

Graves, N., Page, K., Martin, E., & Barnett, A. G. (2016). Cost-effectiveness of a national initiative to improve hand hygiene compliance using the outcome of healthcare associated staphylococcus aureusbacteraemia. PloS one, 11(2), e0148190.

Luangasanatip, N., Hongsuwan, M.& Cooper, B. S. (2015). Comparative efficacy of interventions to promote hand hygiene in hospital: asystematic review and network meta-analysis. BMJ, 351, h3728.

Marimuthu, K., Pittet, D., &Harbarth, S. (2014). The effect of improved hand hygiene on nosocomial MRSA control.Antimicrobial resistance and infection control, 3(1), 34.

Murni, I. K., &Soenarto, Y. (2014). Reducing hospital-acquired infections and improving the rational use of antibiotics in a developing country: an effectiveness study. Archives of disease in childhood, archdischild-2014.

Nair, S. S., Siraj, M. A., &Raghunath, P. (2014). Knowledge, attitude, and practice of hand hygiene among medical and nursing students at a tertiary health care center in Raichur, India. ISRN preventive medicine, 2014.

Smiddy, M. P., O'Connell, R., &Creedon, S. A. (2015).A systematic qualitative literature review of health care workers' compliance with hand hygiene guidelines.American journal of infection control, 43(3), 269-274.

Shinde, M. B., &Mohite, V. R. (2014).A study to assess knowledge, attitude, and practices of five moments of hand hygiene among nursing staff and students at a tertiary care hospital at Karad. International Journal of Science and Research (IJSR), 3(2), 311-321.

Srigley, J. A. & Garber, G. (2015). Applying psychological frameworks of behavior change to improve healthcare worker hand hygiene: a systematic review. Journal of Hospital Infection, 91(3), 202-210.

White, K. M., Jimmieson, N. L. & Martin, E. (2015).Using a theory of planned behavior framework to explore hand hygiene beliefs at the ‘5 critical moments’ among Australian hospital-based nurses. BMC health services research, 15(1), 59.

White, K. M.& Brain, D. (2015). Understanding the determinants of Australian hospital nurses’ hand hygiene decisions following the implementation of a national hand hygiene initiative.Health education research, 30(6), 959-970.

Wetzker, W.,  Pilarski, G. &Reichardt, C. (2016). Compliance with hand hygiene: reference data from the national hand hygiene campaign in Germany. Journal of Hospital Infection, 92(4), 328-331.


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