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Use Your Voice for Clean Hands

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washing handsAs a patient in a health care setting, you are at risk of getting an infection while you are being treated for something else. Patients and their loved ones can play a role in asking and reminding health care providers to wash their hands. Your hands can spread germs too, so protect yourself by washing your hands often. Hand-washing is one of the most important ways to prevent infections.


When should your health care providers wash their hands?

  • Every time they enter an exam/procedure room and before touching you

  • Before wearing gloves

  • After removing gloves

  • Wearing gloves alone is not enough to prevent the spread of infection

  • Before starting any tasks on you (taking blood pressure, drawing blood, etc..)

  • After contact with body fluids, nonintact skin, wound dressings

  • When their hands are visibly soiled

  • Upon leaving the exam room


Use your voice for clean hands

  • Don’t be afraid to use your voice: it’s ok to ask your health care providers to wash their hands.

  • For better results, you too should wash your hands often.


When should I wash my hands?

  • After touching hospital surfaces such as bedrails, bedside tables, doorknobs, remote controls

  • Before eating 

  • Before, during and after preparing food

  • After using the restroom 

  • After coughing, sneezing or caring for someone who is ill 

  • After taking out the garbage 

  • After petting animals 


How should I wash my hands?

  • With an alcohol-based hand sanitizer:

    • Put product on hands and rub hands together.

    • Cover all surfaces until hands feel dry.

    • This should take around 15 seconds or more.


  • With soap and water:

    • Wet your hands with warm water. Use liquid soap if possible. Apply a nickel- or quarter-sized amount of soap to your hands.

    • Rub your hands together until the soap forms a lather and then rub all over the top of your hands, in between your fingers and the area around and under the fingernails.

    • Continue rubbing your hands for at least 15 seconds. Need a timer? Imagine singing the “Happy Birthday” song twice.

    • Rinse your hands well under running water.

    • Dry your hands using a paper towel if possible. Then use your paper towel to turn off the faucet and to open the door if needed.