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How Handwashing Saves Lives

13 October 2017

In Tomorrow's Cleaning, we take a look at why hand hygiene is vital in healthcare facilities and how Touch Free solutions can help.

When you walk into a hospital, what is one of the first things you see? A sign asking you to use hand sanitiser before entering the premises. Healthcare environments such as hospitals are always putting things in place to make sure that hospitals are clean and safe to prevent healthcare-associated infections.

What are healthcare-associated infections?
A healthcare-associated infection (also known as HAI or HACI) is an infection that develops during medical care or treatment. Healthcare-related infections affects millions of patients worldwide and can lead to:

• Serious illness, reduced quality of life and complications
• Longer hospital stays
• Puts a burden on medical resources
• Significant increase of costs to the patient, their families and healthcare providers
• Loss of life.

One in 24 hospital patients has at least one healthcare-associated infection. There are also an estimated 1.4 million cases of healthcare-related infections at any given time. Healthcare workers and family members are also at risk. There are many causes for healthcare-associated infections and you cannot stop them all. However, a good number is preventable.
Hands are a common way of transmitting healthcare-associated illness. This is:

• Directly -  through unwashed hands and direct contact with another person or
• Indirectly - touching common contact points such as doorknobs and through medical equipment.

Hand hygiene - the ‘saviour of mothers’
Germs are everywhere and easily transfer from object to person, and person to person. Washing hands correctly can prevent the spread of those germs and keeps people healthy.

Handwashing has proven benefits dating back to the 1800s. Hungarian physician Ignaz P. Semmelweis found that physicians who washed their hands prevented mothers from dying after giving birth. Ignaz P. Semmelweis’s discovery changed the way hospitals looked at cleanliness and hygiene. Thereafter, he was known as the ‘saviour of mothers.’
Since then evidence repeatedly shows that hands play a major role in spreading bacteria. In healthcare, it means that it doesn’t matter how advanced technology gets to prevent infections. If we do not wash our hands, it reverses the whole process. 

Practicing good hand hygiene prevents the spread of health-associated infections by 40%*. With that in mind, it makes good hand hygiene vital. One of the main ways to combat this and reduce infections is the most simple - by making sure your hands are clean. While handwashing is not the only way to reduce this, it is one of the most important. It is simple and inexpensive.

Touch free solutions provide higher hand hygiene
In public environments, anything that is touched regularly is a hot spot for germs and bacteria. As places in healthcare look for ways to ensure the highest standard of hygiene, touch free solutions are becoming more popular. Touch free dispensers are removing common contact points, which are breeding grounds for bacteria. Their use therefore maximises infection control by preventing cross-contamination between users.

Brightwell Dispensers, for example, provide solutions that help remove these contact points. The latest addition to their Modular range of soap and paper dispensers is the Touch Free soap dispenser. The Modular Touch Free dispenses soap without the user needing to touch the dispenser. This removes contact with frequently touched points where bacteria can transfer.

Even with the right solutions in place, it is counterproductive when we don’t dry our hands as damp skin spreads bacteria as well. In places such as hospitals, people are more vulnerable to infection, making thorough hand drying integral to preventing the spread of germs.

For hand drying, Brightwell Dispensers also offer the Modular Autocut Dispenser. The Autocut is an alternative to the standard paper dispenser as users can dispense paper towels without touching the dispenser, making it the utmost in hygiene. Businesses also see benefits including cost-savings and reduced waste as the unit dispenses one sheet of paper at a time.

Touch free products provide healthcare environments with huge benefits. They are a cost-effective, safer and more hygienic solution.

For more information on how we can help your business, contact us today

*Sources –
WHO
CDC
ResearchGate
http://www.who.int/gpsc/tools/faqs/evidence_hand_hygiene/en/