Clean hands for clean health

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Ashleigh Melanko, ECU Reporter

Look around you. Some of the people you see probably don’t wash their hands often enough. 

The most common side effect of this is the increased risk of catching gastro or the flu, among many others. Human faeces contain a number of bacteria, such as E. Coli and salmonella that can spread via touching or coughing.

This is why places where lots of people gather can be places where germs also gather.

Hand washing in healthcare settings is especially important because pathogens can be spread between people.

Dr Beverly Ewens from the ECU school of nursing and midwifery told ECU Daily that pathogens, such as bacteria, can be spread from one vulnerable person to another if workers don’t wash their hands often enough.

She added that clean hands are: “Taken very seriously in a health care environment.”

According to Hand Hygiene Australia, “hand hygiene practices have been universally poor among health care workers”.

Health care workers hands should be clean at all times but this isn’t the case. Hand Hygiene Australia claims that people don’t wash their hands for a number of reasons, the main ones being it’s time consuming, the sinks are poorly located and their hands don’t appear dirty.

However, the good news is that over the years the average hand hygiene compliance rate in WA hospitals has gone up, as shown on the WA Department of Health. With results coming from 74 WA hospitals, the average rate of compliance for 2017 is so far around 85%. This has jumped significantly since 2012 when the compliance rate was only 70.6%.

This survey also looked at medical professionals and it was noted that in 2017, 74% of them have been complying with hand hygiene. This has improved since 2014 where it was 57%, but it is still not up to the standards maintained by dentists who have a compliance rate above 90%.

According to the World Health Organisation every year worldwide hundreds of millions of patients get infections while receiving care because of the lack of cleaning. These are called health care-associated infections and can cause patients to stay longer in hospital or in the most serious cases end up with permanent disabilities. 

So remember to wash your hands often, or you could be putting other people at risk.