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Portlaoise Hospital Marks World Hand Hygiene Day

Portlaoise Hospitals Marks World Hand Hygiene Day

SAVE LIVES: Clean your Hands

It’s in your hands – prevent sepsis in health care.

If you were told that doing one simple (and free) thing could save you, patients in hospital, your family and your co-workers from becoming ill wouldn’t you jump at the opportunity?  Well you can – the simplest way of reducing the spread of illnesses such as tummy bugs, coughs, colds, and even superbugs and prevent the spread of deadly infection such as Sepsis, is to wash your hands PROPERLY.  At home we can do that using soap and water and in our healthcare settings we also have alcohol gel which is accessible in all areas.

Today, staff of the Infection Prevention and Control and the Nurse Practice Development Departments at the Midland Regional Hospital, Portlaoise are hosting an information day for staff ahead of World Health Organization’s Hand Hygiene Day on Saturday the 5th of May. The campaign aims to highlight the importance of hand hygiene in health care, by ‘bringing people together’ in support of hand hygiene improvement globally.


The information day involved hand hygiene awareness and information sessions demonstrating correct hand hygiene technique with the use of a UV cabinet demonstrating correct technique. Information resources were available for staff with discussion involving the critical moments for hand hygiene within clinical care.  Visual displays were also used showing the 5 moments for Hand Hygiene.  In addition a lunchtime session was very well attended using Youtube videos to highlight the importance of effective hand hygiene.  This was supplemented by awareness and staff presence in the hospital foyer, raising the awareness of the importance of hand hygiene to patients and members of the public.  This Hand Hygiene Day WHO calls on health facilities to prevent health care-associated sepsis through hand hygiene and infection prevention and control (IPC) action. Sepsis is estimated to affect more than 30 million patients every year worldwide.


On World Hand Hygiene Day we need to remember that to protect our health we all need to wash our hands thoroughly. Healthcare workers are trained to follow good hand hygiene practice but it is important for everyone to realise how vital proper hand washing is. Good hand hygiene involves following simple steps every time we wash our hands to ensure that all parts of the hands are clean.  Have a look at the video on proper handwashing.


Effective hand hygiene prevents infection. In preventing infection we prevent the evolution of infection to sepsis.


Karn Cliffe, Assistant Director of Nursing & Midwifery - Sepsis, Dublin Midlands Hospital Group said, “Sepsis is a life-threatening condition triggered by infection that affects the function of the organs. It is treated most effectively if recognised early. It can affect a person of any age, from any social background and can strike irrespective of underlying good health or concurrent medical conditions. In 2016, there were 14,804 cases of sepsis documented in Ireland and 1 in 5 of these patients died.


Claire Dowling and Sarah Roche Infection Prevention and Control Nurses said, “Poor hand hygiene leads to germ transmission including  those germs resistant to antibiotics. This can put patients at risk of potentially fatal health care associated infections (HAI). We as healthcare professionals understand and are committed to improving the standards of hand hygiene as part of the overall approach to reducing healthcare associated infection. We are encouraging our colleagues today to remember the importance of the 5 moments in hand hygiene and how poor practice can dramatically impact on our patients.”


Dr Sean Fleming, Clinical Lead for Sepsis said, “The World Health Organisation reports that approximately 70% of healthcare workers and 50% of surgical teams do not routinely practice hand hygiene. Studies have shown that practising routine hand hygiene achieves a reduction in health care, associated infections (HAIs). Health care associated infections, infections acquired during health care delivery, are common and are a risk factor for developing sepsis but we can prevent this. Fiona Moore Practice Development Nurse added that effective hand hygiene plays a key role. We are delighted to host this important information and education event in the Midland Regional Hospital, Portlaoise today.


We often think we have washed our hands properly but have a look at this short experiment and you will be surprised”. 


Some tips for stopping infections spreading at home are listed below - you should try to make a habit of washing your hands regularly during the day.  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:

For healthcare workers; the 5 moments for hand hygiene
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


Imagine, all you need to reduce the spread of infection is warm running water, plain liquid soap and a clean towel at home/paper towels outside of the home.  Avoid fancy soaps, and cloth towels, as they usually have bugs on them, and avoid using “antibacterial” soaps as they don’t offer any benefit and may actually increase the risk of resistant germs.  It’s important to change towels regularly at home.  Alcohol gel can be used instead of washing your hands with soap and water but it is not effective against some bugs which can cause diarrhoea and vomiting so in that situation soap and water are better. In hospital it is different, because of the nature of the work, there are many more infection causing bugs in the hospital environment so in hospital alcohol gels and other disinfectants may have to be used.


See hse.ie/handhygiene for more information about WHO World Hand Hygiene Day 2018and helpful videos and information about good hand hygiene.

More information is available at: www.hse.ie/sepsis.