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Advice for World Hand Hygiene Day from Tullamore Hospital

MRHT Hand Hygiene Day

Sunday 5th May marks the World Health Organisation’s Hand Hygiene Day around the world. On World Hand Hygiene Day we all need to remember that to protect our health we all need to clean our hands thoroughly. To mark Hand Hygiene Day, the Midland Regional Hospital Tullamore (MRHT) hosted a free information day to raise awareness with staff on best practice in Infection Prevention Control in the Hospital. To view a video on the activities that took place in MRHT for Hand Hygiene Day, including tips for infection prevention control and the importance of hand hygiene in a hospital setting, see below:

Do you know what the simplest thing you can do to save you, your family and your co-workers from becoming ill?  Believe it or not, it is to clean your hands properly.  It is the simplest, cheapest way of reducing the spread of illnesses such as tummy bugs, coughs, colds, and even superbugs. 

Dr. Gerard Crotty, Consultant Haematologist, Midland Regional Hospital Tullamore in supporting Hand Hygiene Awareness Day at the Hospital says: “Proper hand hygiene is such a critical issue for all of us both at home and in our health services. Some infections found in hospitals can be very serious for our patients.  We can all help reduce the spread of these infections if our healthcare workers, patients and visitors all make sure that their hands are clean.”

Noreen Hynes, General Manager, Midland Regional Hospital Tullamore stated: “We want to encourage our staff to take part in the available hand hygiene training and join the Superbug Resistance to fight infection.  Our patients and visitors also play a big part in reducing the spread of infection and it is important to follow our advice on hand cleaning.”

Liz Winters, Infection Prevention/Control CNM2, Midland Regional Hospital Tullamore says: “Washing your hands is one of the easiest ways to protect yourself and others from illnesses such as vomiting, diarrhoea, coughs, colds, sore throat, flu, in fact virtually all infections. The other way we pick up infections is if someone coughs within three feet of us and we inhale their germs. No-one would want to touch or eat poo but millions of us across the world do that every day by not washing our hands properly.  Many infectious diseases are spread through microscopic amounts faecal matter (poo).”

Patients and their families/visitors play their part in reducing the spread of infection in hospital.  There are things you can do to protect yourself from picking up an infection or superbug while you are in or visiting hospital:

  • Clean your hands regularly and use the alcohol gel in the hospital. Always do this after you go to the toilet and before you eat.
  • Do not share your personal things with other patients – for example, your phone, your earphones, and so on.
  • Keep away from other patients’ beds.
  • Only visit your relative when in the hospital
  • Do not let anyone sit on your bed, and don’t sit on another patient’s bed.
  • It’s OK to remind staff to clean their hands.
  • It’s OK to tell a staff member if you see anything that is not clean.

Be a part of the superbug resistance and help us to fight the spread of infection.

Photo caption: Pictured left to right at an event to celebrate World Hand Hygiene Day at Midland Regional Hospital Tullamore: Liz Winters, Infection Prevention/Control CNM2, MRHT; Louisea Burke, Director of Nursing, MRHT; Dr. Gerard Crotty, Consultant Haematologist, MRHT; Noreen Hynes, General Manager, MRHT; and Michelle Bergin, Regional Infection Prevention Control Nurse, Midlands

See hse.ie/handhygiene for more information about WHO World Hand Hygiene Day 2018.

Tips for stopping infections spreading at home

The goal is to find a good balance between keeping your hands clean when it’s most important without limiting your enjoyment of life.  Particularly important times to wash your hand are:

  • When you have been in contact with a person or an animal with an infection
  • When you get back to your home from being out and about or at work, especially if your work involves a lot of contact with people or animals
  • Before starting to prepare or handle food
  • After touching raw meat including poultry
  • Before eating food
  • After using the toilet and after changing nappies

What can you do to protect yourself?

Have a read of our top tips and hand hygiene to protect yourself and your family:

When you wake up in the morning don’t rub your eyes…

According to a study by the Washington University School of Medicine, in a sample of bed sheets examined 18% were found to be contaminated by strains of Staphylococcus aureus.  This is a bacterium that can cause a number of diseases.  It means there is a significant risk that our hands will have a high amount of bacteria on them when we wake up in the morning. So the best thing to do is avoid rubbing your eyes and go straight to the bathroom to wash your face.

On the way to the office….

Public transport is where we all mingle a little bit too closely sometimes on busy buses, trains, the Dart or Luas.  Germs have the opportunity to be spread.   The handrails, seats and touchscreen where we purchase tickets have thousands of billions of microbes.  Of course most of the microbes are not dangerous for humans but some are.  Holding on to handrails is about the same as shaking someone’s hand.  But when you reach the office, make sure to wash your hands before starting work or grabbing some breakfast.

Working in the office? Be wary of the technology

Computers, phones and mobiles are a constant in our office environment, we can’t work without them. But how clean are they?   Research has shown that PCs, keyboards, phones are full of bacteria – a mouse has an average of 260 bacteria per centimetre squared, a keyboard has 511 and the mouthpiece of a telephone has an impressive 3,895!  Make sure you clean your tech equipment.

The toilet is fine - but watch out for the handles, taps and air hand dryers…

The real danger is not the toilet but the handles and taps.   Don’t touch the toilet seat with your hands if it’s visibly dirty.  Our skin acts as a protective barrier when we use the toilet - it is the largest organ in the human body.  Drying your hands with paper towel will reduce the bacterial count by 45 – 60% on your hands. However, using a hand dryer will increase the bacteria on your hands by up to 255% because it blows out bacteria already living in the, conveniently, warm moist environment.

Get more information

There are lots of tips on hand hygiene on www.hse.ie/hcai and you can learn all about bacteria on www.ebug.eu  a teaching/ learning resource for schools and colleges (and parents!).  On ebug you can find out about bugs through quizzes, games and home science experiments.  Try them out – you’ll be surprised.