Frequently Asked Questions on Hand Hygiene


What is the importance of clean hands in patient safety?

Hand hygiene contributes significantly in keeping patients safe. It is a simple, low-cost action to prevent the spread of many of the microbes that cause health care-associated infections (HAI). Compliance with hand hygiene alone can dramatically enhance patient safety, because there is much scientific evidence showing that microbes causing HAI are most frequently spread between patients on the hands of health-care workers.

What types of contaminations can spread due to unclean hands?

The following are examples of the types of microbes that can be spread from unclean hands of health-care staff:

  • Staphylococcus aureus (including MRSA)
  • Streptococcus pyogenes (Group A Strep)
  • Vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus (VRE)
  • Klebsiella
  • Enterobacter
  • Pseudomonas
  • Clostridium difficile
  • Candida
  • Rotavirus
  • Adenovirus
  • Hepatitis A virus
  • Norovirus
What are indications for hand hygiene?

Indications for hand hygiene include the following:

  • Before and after treating each patient (e.g., before glove placement and after glove removal).
  • After barehanded touching of inanimate objects likely to be contaminated by blood, saliva, or respiratory secretions.
  • Before leaving the dental operatory.
  • When hands are visibly soiled.Before regloving, after removing gloves that are torn, cut, or punctured.
  • For oral surgical procedures, perform surgical hand antisepsis before donning sterile surgical gloves.
What are Surgical Antisepsis?

Surgical Antisepsis require washing hands with Water and antimicrobial soap (e.g., chlorhexidine, iodine and iodophors, chloroxylenol [PCMX], triclosan)

How should hand care products be stored?

Hand care products, including plain (non-antimicrobial) soap and antiseptic products, can become contaminated or support the growth of microorganisms. Liquid products must be stored in closed containers and dispensed from either disposable containers or containers that are washed and dried thoroughly before refilling. Soap should not be added to a partially empty dispenser, because this practice of "topping off" might lead to bacterial contamination of soap and negate the beneficial effect of hand cleaning and disinfection.