Wednesday June 19th 2019

CDC launches hand hygiene campaign

On World Hand Hygiene Day, May 5, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention launched its “Clean Hands Count” campaign, urging health care professionals, patients and patients’ loved ones to prevent health care-associated infections by keeping their hands clean.

Although hand contact is known to be a major way germs spread in health care facilities, studies show that some clinicians don’t follow CDC hand hygiene recommendations. On average, health care professionals clean their hands less than half of the times they should.

“Patients depend on their medical team to help them get well, and the first step is making sure health care professionals aren’t exposing them to new infections,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden. “Clean hands really do count and in some cases can be a matter of life and death.”

Part of the new campaign promotes health care provider adherence to CDC hand hygiene recommendations by addressing some of the myths and misperceptions about hand hygiene. For example, some people wrongly believe that using alcohol-based hand sanitizer contributes to antibiotic resistance and that it is more damaging to hands than washing with soap and water. Alcohol-based hand sanitizer kills germs quickly and in a different way than antibiotics, so it does not cause antibiotic resistance, and it causes less skin irritation than frequent use of soap and water.

The initiative also encourages patients and their loved ones to ask their health care team to clean their hands if they don’t see them do so before providing care.

An estimated 722,000 health care-associated infections occur each year in U.S. hospitals, and about 75,000 patients with these infections die during their hospital stays.

For more information and examples of campaign materials visit: www.cdc.gov/handhygiene.

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