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Clean Hands Count for Safe Healthcare

Logo of hand: Clean Hands CountClean hands can protect you from serious infections while you are a patient in a healthcare facility.

What's The Problem?

Most germs that cause serious infections in healthcare are spread by people's actions. Hand hygiene is a great way to prevent infections. However, studies show that on average, healthcare providers clean their hands less than half of the times they should. This contributes to the spread of healthcare-associated infections that affect 1 in 25 hospital patients on any given day. Every patient is at risk of getting an infection while they are being treated for something else. Even healthcare providers are at risk of getting an infection while they are treating patients. Preventing the spread of germs is especially important in hospitals and other facilities such as dialysis centers and nursing homes.

The Clean Hands Count Campaign

CDC's Clean Hands Count campaign aims to improve healthcare provider adherence to hand hygiene recommendations, address myths and misperceptions about hand hygiene, and empower patients to play a role in their care by asking or reminding healthcare providers to clean their hands.

  • Healthcare providers might need to clean their hands as many as 100 times per 12-hour shift, depending on the number of patients and intensity of care.
  • Everyone should know the truth about hand hygiene and alcohol-based hand sanitizer:
    • Alcohol-based hand sanitizer kills most of the bad germs that make you sick and is the preferred way to clean your hands in healthcare settings.
    • Alcohol-based hand sanitizer does not kill C. difficile, a common healthcare-associated infection that causes severe diarrhea. Patients with C. difficile should wash their hands with soap and water and make sure their healthcare providers always wear gloves when caring for them.
    • Alcohol-based hand sanitizer is more effective and less drying than using soap and water, and does not create antibiotic-resistant superbugs.
  • Hand hygiene should be a topic of conversation between healthcare providers and patients. Healthcare providers can explain how and why they clean their hands before, after, and sometimes during patient care, and let patients know it's ok to ask about hand hygiene.
  • Patients and their visitors can protect themselves by cleaning their own hands often.

What Can Patients Do?

Clean your own hands and ask your visitors to clean theirs too.

Infographic: Protect yourself by cleaning your hands often. Germs that cause serious infections are in healthcare facilities. Alcohol-based hand sanitizer is the preferred way to clean your hands. It kills the bad germs while the good germs quickly grow back on your skin.

What Can Healthcare Providers Do?

Healthcare providers should clean their hands before and after every patient contact to protect themselves as well as their patients from infections.

Infographic: When using alcohol-based hand sanitizer, put product on hands and rub hands together. Cover all surfaces until hands feel dry. This should take around 20 seconds.

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