Together, we can set the standard for hand hygiene and help stop the spread of infection. Clean Hands Save Lives. Overview
In the Cork University and Cork University Maternity hospitals, we are committed to keeping patients safe by practicing good hand hygiene. Hand hygiene is a simple and very effective way of preventing the spread of infections. Hand hygiene can be performed with alcohol hand rubs, which are available at all patient contact areas, or by hand washing.
We require our staff to use hand hygiene before and after caring for a patient and before and after performing invasive procedures on patients.
National hand hygiene audits, how are we doing? What are we doing to improve hand hygiene at CUH? Read More
Hand Hygiene Technique Cleaning hands properly requires that all parts of the hands come in contact with the soap and water, and that they are rubbed to remove any germs carried on them. The following diagram shows areas of the hands that are frequently missed if a proper technique is not used.
A step by step hand washing technique was devised by Ayliffe et al (1978) to ensure that all parts of the hands are cleaned properly, as shown here in the following video.
Hand Hygiene at CUH - Watch our in-house produced Hand Hygiene Technique video VIDEO What is Hand Hygiene?
Hand Hygiene is the general term that refers to the action of hand cleansing. Hands are the main pathways of germ transmission and the most important way to avoid spreading harmful germs and prevent healthcare associated infections is hand hygiene.
Why is Hand Hygiene Important?
Germs are often harmless but they can also cause illnesses such as colds, tummy bugs as well as a more serious illness like flu, MRSA and Clostridium difficile. You pick up germs routinely on your hands when you touch the environment such as door handles, telephones and after using the toilet and coughing or sneezing into your hands. Hand hygiene is one of the most important ways to prevent the spread of infections.
When Should I Carry Out Hand Hygiene? Patients
You should carry out hand hygiene when hands are visibly dirty and
• Before eating or handling food.
• Before touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
• Before and after touching dressings or medical devices such as drips (Intravenous Catheter) and/or urinary catheters
• After using the toilet, bedpan or commode, and
• After blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing.
You should carry out hand hygiene on entering the hospital and
• Before and after visiting your relative or friend.
• Before carrying out tasks, such as helping a relative with their meal or helping them to the toilet, and
• On entering and leaving an isolation area.
Staff should carry out hand hygiene
Before touching you. Before they perform a clean/aseptic procedure, such as inserting an IV (Intravenous Catheter). After tasks which might lead to exposure to body fluids, such as emptying your urinary catheter. After touching you, and After touching things in your care area, such as bed rails or your medical chart. . Please remind staff to clean their hands if you think they have forgotten to do so How Else Can I, a Visitor, Help Reduce Healthcare Associated Infections?
For infection prevention & control purposes, and to keep patients safe and well, visitors are requested:
Not to visit when you are unwell, eg. have a cold, flu, cold sores, diarrhoea and/or vomiting. Not to eat or drink in the ward. Canteen facilities are provided for this purpose. Not to use a patients cup or glass Not to use the patient toilets Not to sit on a patient's bed Use the chairs provided. Not to touch any medical devices, drips or catheters.
Always follow staff instructions on hand hygiene as, in some illnesses, soap and water is better at removing bacterial germs such as Clostridium difficile.
Further Information & Downloads
If you would like more information about infection prevention and control in the hospital or have concerns, please talk to a member of ward staff or the Ward Manager. Additional information is available from the Health Protection Surveillance Centre at