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Clean hands save lives

from the May 2, 2011 issue of Connect

Clean hands save lives

Do you ever think about all of the things you touch each day? Keyboards, door handles, elevator buttons – they all can harbour millions of bacteria that can lead to infections.

This may sound scary, but it doesn’t have to be. In fact, the easiest and most effective way to reduce health-care associated infections is simply by washing your hands.

That is why Women’s College Hospital is participating in the second annual, STOP! Clean Your Hands Day on Thursday, May 5, 2011. Organized by the Canadian Patient Safety Institute and the Community and Hospital Infection Control Association, the event educates health-care providers and patients about the effectiveness of proper hand hygiene. The event coincides with the World Health Organization’s (WHO) global initiative, Save Lives: Clean Your Hands.

“Germs spread really easily,” explains Sonja Cobham, co-ordinator of Infection Prevention and Control at Women's College Hospital. “Whatever a person touches can have germs that are then transferred to other surfaces and picked up by people, which can cause infections and viral illnesses.”

Staff, physicians and volunteers are encouraged to invite the staff from Infection Prevention and Control to visit your department on May 5 to take part in a fun experiment. It uses a special lotion and powder combined with a UV light to show how easily germs spread and how long they can remain on hands. There will also be a hand hygiene display in the front lobby, showcasing an entertaining video created by Brantford General Hospital featuring the band Doctor Doctor performing the song, I Want to Wash My Hands.

The goal of the day is to emphasize the importance of thoroughly washing your hands with soap and water, or using alcohol-based hand rub to prevent the spread of infection.

“The health and well-being of our patients, staff, physicians and volunteers is critical,” says Cobham. “That is why we’re encouraging everyone to engage in optimal hand hygiene.”

To access Women's College Hospital’s hand hygiene policy on the intranet, click here.

For more information about STOP! Clean Your Hands Day, visit www.saferhealthcarenow.ca.

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