Hand Hygiene Basics
In the United States, hospital patients get nearly 2 million infections each year. That’s about 1 infection for every 20 patients. Infections that patients get in the hospital can be life-threatening and hard to treat. Hand hygiene is one of the most important ways to prevent the spread of infections.
Healthcare providers should practice hand hygiene at key points in time to disrupt the transmission of microorganisms to patients including: before patient contact; after contact with blood, body fluids, or contaminated surfaces (even if gloves are worn); before invasive procedures; and after removing gloves (wearing gloves is not enough to prevent the transmission of pathogens in healthcare settings). For a full list of hand hygiene indications, please see the recommendations in the Hand Hygiene Guideline.
Patients and their loved ones can play a role in helping to prevent infections by practicing hand hygiene themselves as well as asking or reminding their healthcare providers to perform hand hygiene.